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The Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) and the Galata Greek School
Foundation from Istanbul signed a Memorandum of Understanding on August
29 2012 in the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Architecture
Biennale. This agreement formalises their joint commitment to revitalise
a vacant monumental building in Istanbul’s historical centre by means
of an international matchmaking project.
NAI Matchmaking in Turkey
The NAI and the Galata Greek School Foundation will bring together Dutch and Turkish architects. They will be asked to put forward concepts, designs and management proposals for the reuse of the Galata Greek School, which is currently vacant. This marks the expansion of the NAI’s matchmaking activities from China, Brazil and India into Turkey.
Galata Greek School
A model of social, cultural and ethnic diversity until the 1930s, Istanbul started to lose this admirable characteristic due to policies against ethnic minorities. A recent law has restored the rights of ethnic minorities, which allows them to reclaim properties that once belonged to their communities. The Galata Greek School in Istanbul is one of these reclaimed properties.
Voids in the City
The Rum minority are the people of Greek origin who live in Turkey. The Rum population living in Istanbul has declined from an estimated 200,000 to a mere 2,000, so many of the buildings that once belonged to them remain vacant even if they are reclaimed. These properties, including the Galata Greek School, are voids in the city.
Venice Architecture Biennale
The signing ceremony was held on 29 August 2012 in the Dutch Pavilion, during the Venice International Architecture Biennale. The moving curtains of ‘Re-set’, this year’s Dutch submission to the Biennale designed by Petra Blaisse/ Inside Outside, formed the backdrop. Like ‘Vacant NL’, the 2010 submission designed by Rietveld Landscape, the 2012 presentation serves as a call to revitalise vacant buildings.
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