Friday, February 3, 2017


Karaköy. Beyoğlu - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'26.0"N 28°58'26.0"E / 41.023889, 28.973889

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In 2001, the Ottoman Bank became part of the Garanti Bank and now, the building is house to SALT Galata and has been organized to enable a challenging, multi-layered program that includes SALT Research, which offers public access to thousands of print and digital resources; a 219-capacity Auditorium; the renovated Ottoman Bank Museum; Workshop spaces; an Open Archive where archival research projects are interpreted and discussed; a temporary exhibition space; as well as a Café, Restaurant and Bookstore.

SALT was founded with the support of Garanti Bank after the restructuring of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center, and Garanti Gallery as a single, autonomous institution. SALT fosters an innovative and experimental intellectual climate in order to spark learning and discussions around critical and timely cultural matters.

SALT was founded in Istanbul in April 2011 as a not-for-profit cultural institution. SALT conducts interdisciplinary research projects, and hosts public programs such as exhibitions, talks, film screenings, lectures, performances, and workshops.

SALT is a member of L’Internationale - a confederation of European museums which aims towards a shared use of collections and archives. Far from championing a hierarchical and centralized internationalism, L’Internationale consists of a constellation of cultural agents that are locally rooted and globally connected. It proposes a space for art within a non-hierarchical and decentralised internationalism, based on the values of difference and horizontal exchange.

Working in conjunction with the greater changes that are currently taking place in Istanbul’s arts scene, SALT hosts exhibitions and conferences, engages in interdisciplinary research projects, and has a library and archives for public use. SALT’s activities are split between two Garanti-owned buildings, SALT Beyoğlu on İstiklal Caddesi, and SALT Galata, on Bankalar Caddesi in Karaköy.

SALT's second branch, SALT Galata, is located in the historic Ottoman Bank on Bankalar Caddesi (formerly known as Voyvoda Caddesi) in Karaköy. SALT Galata houses the Ottoman Bank Museum; an exhibition space on its sub-ground-floor level; a research library (SALT Research); an auditorium seating over 200 people; an Open Archive; a cafe and a restaurant; workshop spaces; and a bookstore run by well-known Beyoğlu bookseller Robinson Crusoe.

The library and archival collections of SALT Research focus on art, architecture, urbanism, and social and economic histories. Its physical and digital holdings are available for public use. SALT Research Funds were established by SALT in 2013 with the objective of supporting experimental thinking, research, and analysis of societal changes and developments from multiple critical vantage points.

SALT e-publications can be read in PDF or EPUB formats, transferred to mobile devices, or printed if desired.


The Ottoman Bank (Turkish: Osmanlı Bankası) (formerly Imperial Ottoman Bank, Ottoman Turkish: Bank-ı Osmanî-i Şahane) was founded in 1856 in the Galata business section of İstanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, as a joint venture between British interests, the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas of France, and the Ottoman government. It operated as the Imperial Ottoman Bank from 1863 to 1924. Privileged as a state bank, it carried out the functions of a central bank.

A monumental building which has lost its original form long ago within the urban texture of Galata, although it has been known as the Ottoman Bank for a time period over a century, perceived to be a single building, actually has been designed as the headquarters of two different institutions. Ottoman Empire Tobacco Regime Company and the Ottoman Bank.

In late 1880s, part of a large lot on Voyvoda Street purchased by Tobacco Regime was transferred to the Bank. The famed Levantine architect of the period, Alexandre Vallaury, was given the task of designing a contemporary grandiose structure. The design dilemma in construction displays radical differences as if two different architects designed two totally different buildings at different times looking at the façades on Voyvoda Street and the Golden Horn.

The Voyvoda Street façade has been designed with dimensions ordered in proportion and construction patterns in line with the classical or neo-classical architectural design rules. The design of Vallaury reflects the uniformity of the 19th century banks which have become a trend at the time. The broad eave supported by long iron rods on the side façades (non-existent today) is the dominant element of the Golden Horn façade, too. On this façade, the eave turns the corners, is cut off in the middles and is equipped with other elements introducing an exceptional movement to the above floors.

Vallaury, with the concern of relatively mitigating the predominance of a giant mass within the urban mosaic of Galata where still large and small wooden buildings were prominent those years, has scattered details reminiscent of traditional homes on the upper floor. There are three small kiosks in the building; one of them in the middle, two at the corners.

These two buildings used by the Ottoman Bank and the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey are the two best-documented buildings located on voyvoda
Street in İstanbul. The Project was entrusted to the architect, Alexandre vallaury, and construction of the twin buildings was completed by 1892. Today, it is the bank's Karaköy branch and hosts the Ottoman Bank Banking and fınancial History Research and Documentation Ccntre.

The neighboring twin building of the Tobacco Regie Administration was the headquarters of the Regie until June of 1925, when all Regie propcrty, including its head Office, was seized by the government of the Republic of Turkey. The building was then transferred to the newly established State Tobacco Monoply, and in 1933, to the State Monopolies. It was purchased from the State Monopolies by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey in 1934, and has served as the İstanbul branch of the Central Bank ever since.

One of the most striking characteristics of these buildings is that their façade facing Beyoğlu-Pera is in the neoclassical style, while their rear façade, facing the Golden Horrn and old İstanbul shows orientalist elements. Vallaury was us ing architectural language to express the East-West dualism of these two institutions.

The site, conceived for twin buildings functionning with the Turkish Tobacco Monopoly, was bought in 1889 by the last-mentioned company. Two months later, the General Directorate of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, obtaining its share in the site, decided the construction of a new building, intended for its own use, and which would serve as head office. The General Manager of the Bank, Sir Edgar Vincent, writing on 7th February 1890 a letter to Thédore Berger, member of Paris Committee, suggested him to buy the half of the site for the construction of a new branch. On 13th February 1890, the approval of the Paris and London Committees was received.

French Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury designed the original building to house the Ottoman Bank as inaugurated in 1892. The building is a landmark unique to İstanbul with surprisingly distinct architectural styles - neoclassical and oriental - applied on opposite facades. With this building, Vallaury has proven how important a design issue the diligence is to be exercised on the single building scale and aesthetics in maintaining the urban identity.

The building, constructed by the Architect Alexandre Vallauri, was composed, in the basement by vaults, stock rooms and stables; In the level under the ground floor, by the Mecidiye safe-room, so called because of coins of 20 piasters worth, which they contain at that time and by dining-hall; on the ground floor by the space reserved to the branch.

On the first floor, apart from the private and professional offices of the General Manager, by the offices of his secretary and that of the translators; on the second floor, by the accounting department with the offices of the chief accountant, the state commissioner and the inspectors; in the attic, by the victuals department, archives and housekeepers' rooms.

The most interesting characteristic of the building is the difference of architectural style remarkable in its back and front façades. The neo-classical and neo-renaissance features of the front façade, looking out onto the Banks Street, reflect the glory and the dignity of European banks at the time. The back façade, looking out onto the old Istanbul beyond the Golden Horn, is notable for its nearly orientalist characteristics.

This difference among the two façades seems to symbolize in fact the status of the Bank between East and West. A similitude is remarkable in the inscriptions located face to face at the entrance of the Bank. The one in Latin emphasizes the importance of the friendship while the other in Arabic exalts the fortune.


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