Conservation-restoration and reconstruction of two Ottoman palaces on the Bosphorus in Istanbul (Turkey)On the European side of Istanbul under the first Bosphorus Bridge, which connects Europe with Asia, are the last two –from originally 80– surviving wooden palaces from the 19th century. The palaces were given as dowry to the daughters of Sultan Murat IV (Fehime and Hatice) by their uncle Sultan Abdulhamid II. They are of particular importance for the urban architecture and represent a special combination of the typical wooden Ottoman architecture and natural stone under the influence of Western architecture.
Following a sensitive restoration in accordance with the high standards set in historic monument preservation, the palaces will acquire a new function –that of a modern hotel– without hiding their historical origins and use.
While the modern infrastructure is situated in the basement area, the guest rooms are in the above-ground rooms of the two palaces. Spatial structure, layout and most of the original dimensions have been preserved in spite of the new function and a large part of the historic surfaces have been conserved.
After a severe fire in 2002, Fehime Palace remained without any protective cover and therefore completely exposed to the elements for several years. In order to rescue it from complete ruin, a concept was developed to dismantle it and subsequently restore the salvageable components (approximately 30,000 original elements were deemed salvageable). Since 2012, the conservation and restoration work is being carried out on the elements in a large depot with specialized workshops specifically designed for this project. The new palace structure has been built, the restored wooden cladding and the ground floor stone cladding have been attached to the façades and at the end of 2015 the work regarding the reinstallation of the original interior elements began. The restoration concept was developed by RAO in collaboration with David Chipperfield Architects Berlin and implemented step by step under its supervision.
Hatice Palace has been extensively altered and unscrupulously renovated several times over the years. Most of the original wall surfaces were completely lost, with a few exceptions. On the other hand, the elaborately painted ceilings with stucco decorations, the ceiling cornices and the historical wooden ceilings have been preserved almost completely. Only a small part of the restoration for this palace was executed in the workshop; the rest is being done in situ. To make this possible, specific securing measures were implemented on the support structure.
RAO took over the project management and supervision for the reconstruction, conservation and restoration work in 2010 under the direction of Jörg Breitenfeldt. Besides developing concepts for restoration and reconstruction, project management, project coordination and quality control, RAO also gives practical assistance in the training of the conservators, prepares reference areas for the various conservation and restoration issues and evaluates the aesthetic goals from a historic monuments point of view while taking into consideration the aesthetic expectations with respect to the new function of the buildings as a hotel.