THIS ATRIUM BELONGS IN A SCI-FI DYSTOPIA.
If you ask me, Istanbul is inherently cinematic. I just left Switzerland which you could say is inherently picturesque — with its mountains, its lakes and its pristine architecture, it would make a good location for several of my cinematic fantasies. But could you do a dystopian epic with a nicely understated sci-fi twist? I think not. I regularly dream movies up in my head, like the other day when I decided to cut through this han to get to Karaköy Lokantasi, and for about two-three minutes I completely forgot my ravenous appetite.
SILENCE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. A DISQUIETING QUIET.
Suddenly as I stepped out of the daylight into the long shadows of this pasaj, my imagination plunged me into a kind of dystopian wonderland. I could almost imagine myself hunting down a replicant in this building, just like in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (or Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — since I said cinema).
This building was once something, perhaps not beautiful, but most likely dignified. Now it’s something entirely different. It’s kind of cyberpunk, the way it’s been added on, and added on to over the years. There are extra floors stacked uneasily on top of the original structure. Looking up through the atrium you can also see all the retro-fitted air-conditioning fans which whir suddenly on, and their exhaust hoses and couplings burrowing through the building’s skin like some sort of cybernetic experiment ravaging a once healthy body.
THE ENTRANCE. WHAT BROKEN DREAMS BELONG WITHIN?
Then you go deeper. You see an entrance, the grit-smeared glass backlit by exposed fluorescent lights. A hall and elevators which last passed inspection before you were born. And despite it all, the grumbling in your stomach, the shortness of your day, your plans, something in you is pulled deeper inside, if only for a moment. You wonder about all the people who once worked here, how they lived, how they prospered, and where they all went. Every dystopia begins with a good dream gone wrong, doesn’t it?
WHAT WOULD THE ARCHITECT WHO FIRST DREAMED UP THIS HAN THINK?
Istanbul is a city full of broken dreams. But even broken there’s always something beautiful, if a little melancholy, to find. There’s always space to dream up what’s next, and imagine a new future. In our finite world there’s only one direction to go once you reach Utopia. Perhaps that’s what’s so appealing about a dystopia, the hope that you’ll find a way through to some incredible new future.
That’s one of the many things I love about Istanbul … even standing still, you’re always taken somewhere else.