Besiktas Fish Market by GAD


Architects GAD of New York, Istanbul and Bodrum have completed a fish market in Istanbul covered by a concrete and steel canopy.

Called Besiktas Fish Market, the steel and concrete structure has no internal columns and allows for wide entrances on each side.

Six stainless steel display stands are illuminated by incandescent bulbs simply suspended from the ceiling.

Photographs are  by Özlem Avcioglu and Ozan Ertug.

The text below is from GAD:

The Besiktas Fish Market project is a notable effort by the community of Besiktas to revitalize their neighborhood. Besiktas is located in one of Istanbul’s most populated and diverse neighborhoods.

It is an eclectic area with a hectic yet village like atmosphere that is in the process of urban preservation and renewal.

Located on a 320m2 triangular site in the heart of the neighborhood’s commercial district, the market is very well-known. Throughout the day, it is bustling with people as many locals and visitors buy fresh fish and produce.

Since the structure of the old fish market was in dire condition, a goal was set to rebuild it. The project team was assembled to work directly with the municipality of Besiktas and the local merchants to organize an effective project strategy and goal.

GAD and Gokhan Avcioglu started the design process with a series of manipulations of the triangular site and its ground surface. The inflating the surface was a quick indicator of the possible symbolic nature of the site and project.

To achieve a public and welcoming appearance, the surface was pierced along its periphery.

This technique created a hollow, porous form allowing program and circulation to easily mix and flow.

The project was developed into a simple yet iconic concrete and steel seashell-like form covering the entire site with large openings at street level.

The sturdy porous shell provides a column-free interior space, optimizing the project’s programmatic needs, while also providing a dramatic market space.

Both the underside and top of the shell will be used as a platform for artistic interventions; several projects are currently being planned for when Istanbul host the 2010 European Capital of Culture.

The interior volume is divided into 6 display sections of various sizes.

The 6 sections are joined by circulation that easily connect all the sections and extends to the larger urban fabric. The display cases were hand-crafted by local experts as continuous stainless steel forms.

For the lighting system, the design maintains the traditional use of hanging 150 watt Edison light bulbs; this lighting type is common of fish markets in Istanbul.

Overall, the new design presents a contemporary and pragmatic solution for the famous fish market; it has become a proud beacon of the community’s effort to improve their market and neighborhood.

Project Info
Project Name
Proje Yeri: Turkiye/Istanbul/Besiktas
Project Location

Kolaborator: Besiktas Municipality
Mimari Proje: Gokhan Avcioglu & GAD
Architectural Project
Proje Mimari: Gokhan Avcioglu
Project Architect

Mimari Proje Ekibi: Ozan Ertug, Serkan Cedetas, Tahsin İnanici
Project Team

Fotograflar: Özlem Avcioglu, Ozan Ertug

Proje Tarihi: 2007-2008
Project Date

Yapim Tarihi: 2008-2009
Construction Date

İsveren: Besiktas Municipality
Yapim Turu: Steel
Construction type

Arsa Alani: 320 m2
Site Area

Toplam İnsaat Alani: 320 m2
Total Construction Area

Proje Maliyeti: 500.000$
Project Cost

Posted on Tuesday February 16th 2010 at 11:59 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Awesome design! Seems it is very rare today. Being an Istanbulian I did not see this market yet, but so glad you just share it. Thanks so much.

  • norm

    the bracing just hurts.. if you gonna do a shell, figure out the structure first..

  • Christine

    Great space, well thought out. I like the height, you can feel a bit squished in busy markets but the height helps out with air flow. I also like how the lighting is close to the display is great too to see what you are buying. Thanks for all the info.

  • Ghis

    Simple and effective.
    Everything’s on.
    That’s what I call architecture.

  • orrible

    this is one of the most orrible things on here in such a long time. i’m crying.

  • dw

    true, seems bit over structured. but i like it in general.

  • cmontilla

    very nice intervention!

  • blab

    the bracing hurts? The structure is just primary and secondary framing, it seems like it works well to me. The days of Candela’s thin shells are long gone due to current building codes.

  • zia

    Cool project.

    They forgot to translate the project info or Dezeen was to lazy to do it.

    The project cost sounds highly inflated. You can build an entire apartment building in Istanbul with that amount.

    • tophat

      Yes you could build an apartment block. But this would be an ugly concrete towering monstrosity which hasn't had any consideration to design implemented and is built to the poorest of standards which are now covering the Istanbul skyline through the governments attempt to curb the shanty towns that still persist!

  • Kong

    Great !

    Norm don´t be a slave to the shell construction , the optimized shell design got boring about 30 years ago. Designers should be allowed to take freedom in changing design from reference to final shape.

  • Hi Zia, there are English translations of the project info below each line of Turkish.

  • that is supertasty

    i agree with kong, norm.

    get with the program

  • How is it secured at night?

  • It’s over structured because they ignored Saarinen and didn’t pin connect the corners.

    This is a nightmare.

  • norm

    the bracing is not there because of any programmatic need, it’s simply there as an afterthought. that is very clear when you look at the drawings. + the days of thin shells are not gone, it’s just starting with the invention of new methods & materials… my criticism is that, the entire project is a shell so it should have been done with care and well detailed but it looks like the designers fell in love with the form and didn’t pay much attention to techtonics and making of it. it succeeds as an urban intervention, but for a project of this size, craftsmanship matters.

  • Mark

    I like the paving pattern in the street. And it would be nice to see some fish in those stalls. Apart from the flannel panel, a lovely project.

  • I like how much it looks like the open mouth of the whale that swallowed Jonah. Très awesome, that.

  • Kristen

    How are they going to deal with the smell ? It seems a strategic location for a commercial value project rather than a market specifically for fish.

  • bebo

    i love the simplicity of the design, but the roof might be a problem.

    • Mark

      It’s slightly clumsy sure, and Western health inspectors would shut it down in a heartbeat but it’s a celebration of place and product and utterly charming. Remember germs make us stronger.

  • approx

    Dull. It is a bit overscaled, no liveliness at all, and the light bulbs are so boring, it looks fine because it is a fishmarket!

  • Doug

    Great program, well executed . As for Kristens comment on smell, keeping it open is probably the best strategy there is. As for pin connecting the corners, is that some bizzare joke? Can’t you extrapolate what the budget must be from the area, usage and economics? Many dezeen commenters are working at a level above almost everything built or have never built anything in their life. I quote from above: “(an) effort by the community of Besiktas to revitalize their neighborhood.”

  • jmaw

    i love this little building!
    tiny and present in the monumental city.

    I love this shape!good design!

  • Nenad

    Well it’s a cool idea.. and the fish scales on the asphalt, nice… Just don’t know if it will counter the smell of fish no matter how nice it looks :)

  • Ebru Kandilci

    so simple and so successful!
    less is more again!

  • norm you’re such a berk

  • MrCoolTeapot

    Super cool from the ground. Seems a little DARK, on the inside, doesn’t it?
    Dark ceiling, dark display cases, small light bulbs…hmmm?
    Be nice to hear from vendors a few months from now and see how they like it.

  • hulala

    i’ve seen an interview on tv with the guys working in this market about the storage problem… unfortunately they were saying they lost all their fridges with this design and it is a disaster for them….

    it’s a cool attempt, some things are very successful in this project and especially the ambition is worth to be appreciated! not many Turkish architects have the b%lls to try something new…

    but i think Norm is right in his critisism.

    even if it’s a failure or can be a lot better, GAD is trying their best!
    congratulations for that!

  • Fizz

    Sculpture doubling as architecture – now that’s an idea!

  • brunopascia

    Very interesting, I wonder about putting such a modern Whale in one of the few old leftovers of the classic Istanbul. It seems to me that for some reason there is no will to proudly keep the past. Istanbul is striving for the new moking other big cities and forgetting history. This was a fantastic little square, with the market and little excellent traditional restaurant. Finished, gone.
    Regarding the building, I agree in the lack of proper space for fridges and secluded spaces for the sellers. Another question: what about rain with wind ? it happens very frequently there…

  • 8

    I don’t like most of the modern architecture but this work is good and tasty. Most of the atmosphere comes from lights and white copper but if this details will stay it is dynamic whole even some buildings are too close at the pictures. Well done very enjoyful specially in this culture context and under this concept. Well done!

  • Greenwitchmarch

    I worked in the site of this project, when i was an intern at GAD. I can easly say that GAD is one of the few offices in Turkey which can dare that kind of modern design. But sometimes form does not follow the function, because of that excellent shell, fishers have to restore their fish or salad ingredients in a really small fridges, in addition to that, circulation area, becomes impossible to walktrough in rush-hours. Despite all that, little details, such as traditional, cable hung, lightbulbs and fish-skin mosaic tiling are really successful.

    ps: To avoid from the rain and wind, white colured, triangle shaped rain-stoppers were going to put on each façade, but the surrounding restourants
    didn’t let us to install, by collecting signature by claiming the rain-stoppers will disable thier sight. You can see the steel cables in the pictures.

  • Dueholm

    It's a true shame that the corner sales counters haven't been integrated in the structure as intended in the diagram. That way it could have been more than just a concrete conopy.

  • maxi

    chubby version of saarinen

  • Neil knowles

    150w hanging Edison bulbs? Really? Not waterproof, high energy, high maintenance, breakable. Just because its always been done like this does not mean there are no better alternatives.

  • grr

    I was there in spring 2013. Nice idea, but the worst detailing and materials choice ever. It looks like s**t. Three years old and it deserves demolishing.