A Modern Architectural Work in Eskişehir: Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM)


A historical area in the center of Eskişehir where the Ottoman-Turkmen settlement form is preserved, where we can see the most original works of traditional Turkish architecture and where there are many aesthetic buildings, Odunpazarı…

From The Depth Of History To Modernism
The district, which must be seen by those who happen to pass Eskişehir, an important stop at the intersection of road and rail networks, is full of traditional buildings that have served the need for accommodation of people since ancient times. Recently, the overhaul of the architectural texture of the region and renovation works by the local authorities in accordance with its original have changed the appearance of Odunpazarı and have increased its attractiveness. Although most of the houses in the district are currently used for accommodation, some of the buildings that have been restored to their original form have become boutique hotels, cafes, restaurants or museums. Maintaining the Anatolian-Ottoman atmosphere, the historical district has gained a more special structure these days. Odunpazarı Modern Museum (OMM) is the name of the building bearing the signature of Kengo Kuma and Associates, the famous Japanese architectural office which has a say in the field of architecture in the world. The museum was a project that has been waiting for a long time for those interested in contemporary art and modern designs in our country. The building, which was finally opened on September 7, 2019, attracted the attention of the architectural world with its contribution as an eclectic (mixed) design in the historical silhouette of the region which is included in the Unesco World Cultural Heritage Tentative List.

Famous Japanese architects Kengo Kuma and Yuki Ikeguchi, who set out with the idea of “amalgamating nature and architecture in a manner that creates a strong bond between the ‘building’ and its ‘location’,” made great efforts to adapt the OMM-Odunpazarı Modern Museum building to the texture of the historical district. The work, in which the principle that design is not kitsch”, and is in harmony with the district and the geography is considered, has a feel not only from modern architecture, but also from local civilian forms, classical Ottoman-Seljuk architecture and Far East Japanese culture. For the project company, which has built successful designs around the world, local form, regional history, cultural and natural features became the main motivations for the emergence of outline of the structure. In the Odunpazarı Modern Museum project of Kengo Kuma, who wants to emphasize the harmony of wood with stone and glass, we see that it takes the form, majesty, and woodwork and light details of the Ottoman architecture. ‘Eclecticism’ is the main glue to hold all these mixed arguments together. As a result, Odunpazarı Modern Museum has been erected as a modern architectural masterpiece and turned into a place where the modern art world could breathe.

Local Aesthetic Values and Modern Art
Using wood in the museum is in the foreground, which was built based on the ecole of “wagoya”, which is the most commonly used technique in the construction of traditional Japanese houses. The wagoya, which resembles the “çandı” technique, which is commonly used in traditional Anatolian architecture, means the external form with wooden connections that intertwine without the use of nails. Greeting the attitude of integrating with nature in Japanese culture, the technique is easily added to the wooden architectural texture of Odunpazarı. Kengo Kuma is one of the world’s leading architects in the field of art galleries and museum architecture by displaying style and attitude in the architecture. In his speech at the opening of the museum, the designer expresses how much he internalized the project and the location: “We wanted to include the idea of street in the design, because, unlike modern cities, the very significant street scale in Odunpazarı is formed by the recesses of the buildings. Traditional wooden houses are not lined up straight, for example, the appearance of a bay window on the second floor is really nice for passers-by. We wanted to add this feeling to the interior of the museum. It’s a twisty path through boxes.”

A Modern Art Dream in Odunpazari
While the neighborhood was an important center where the wood and timber supply of the neighboring provinces of Anatolia, as the name of the city, was considered that it was essential to construct a modern design that would not contradict its characteristics. The design is highlighted by four major components: geometry, stacking, light, and timber.  The transformation of consecutive and simple lines into an intricate harmony, the permeability that allows the strong and reckless Anatolian sun to infiltrate every point of the space, the architectural stacking that distorts uniformity and the wooden exterior texture stand out as the architectural characteristics of OMM. The museum, which is a mixed architectural masterpiece in which modern and traditional intertwined, operates under the roof of OMM Foundation, founded by Erol Tabanca, Rana Erkan Tabanca and Cem Siyah. The museum also hosts the works from the modern art collection of architect Erol Tabanca. There are more than a thousand works of art in the collection, where many works that have left their mark in the field of contemporary art from our country and the world since the second half of the 20th century. Tabanca believes that the place where modern art will breathe has important missions for its becoming a symbol by integrating its hometown Eskişehir with its history and contributing to the cultural development of Anatolia.

Contemporary Art Vision and OMM
From the idea of creating a social center, OMM, to be operated on an area of approximately 4,500 m2, also has the useful venues and workshops for many events and organizations, museum store and cafes, as well as exhibition areas. Training and seminar programs, artist and art-lovers meetings, workshops, equipment for practical and theoretical presentations, activity programs for children and young people, cultural publications, organizations that increase the artistic rhythm of the city stand out as the vision of OMM in reflecting its potential.

In addition to the art gallery and museum activities, OMM’s understanding of the value of the relationship between education, children and art has been realized as children’s summer workshops. The program unleashes the vivid imagination and innovative thinking away from patterns of children aged 7-10. After the exhibition presentation accompanied by instructors, they are asked to transfer their impressions to fairy tale books in order to understand how the works of art take place in the children’s great imagination and the resulting works are shared with the event participants. Children’s workshop activities, which include the concepts of light, shadow, light and dark, which are the essential for visual arts, are also reflections of the theme of art and future of OMM. The rich program, which is a reflection of the understanding that museums are not showcases where traditional and modern artworks are displayed, reveals the potential of the building as a community center. Architect Kengo Kuma’s idea that museums can serve as a community center in the 21st century, transforms OMM into living rooms that appeal to society’s sense of education, socialization, entertainment and belonging. This is why the place is described as a very warm and friendly living space.

Finally, let’s take a look at the works that should not be missed in the current exhibition calendar of OMM, which is a fresh breathing space for performing and exhibiting modern arts in our country. Site-Specific Installation of Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, a special installation to be exhibited in the museum for a year, “The Union”, Selection from the Erol Tabanca Collection, comprising of works created after 1950s by artists from Turkey and from several corners of the world, collective exhibition Marshmallow Laser Feast that shines out with the subheading Multisensory Immersive Installations: Treehugger & In the Eyes of the Animal are the main exhibitions in the program of the museum.


Local And International Art
The mixed design structure of Odunpazarı Modern Museum is not only reflected in its exterior appearance as a form. The place has gained importance as a platform where modern art breathes; the intercultural connection thanks to which the works of many artists at home and abroad can be exhibited internationally is organized.

Art And Design From Local To Universal
Kengo Kuma is a designer who has made a name for himself with the projects he has realized in his country and in some European countries that are centers of art. The Suntory Art Museum in Tokyo, the Nagasaki Art Museum, the Cité des Arts et de la Culture in Besançon in Eastern France, and the V&A Dundee affiliated with the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee, Scotland, are referred to as works which brought prestige to the designer.

Mission Of OMM
Today, we know that these types of places, which shape modern art activities and add perspective and value to them, have the potential to create an art school in the medium and long term. In addition to maintaining the broad collection it offers, bringing it together with art lovers, preserving its style and technique, OMM also has missions such as being a locomotive in the contemporary art world with its ever-changing program.

By: Özge Öztürk / Photo: © Naaro

 *This article was  published in the  September-October issue of Marmara Life. 

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