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Beyoğlu and its environs has always been a more cosmopolitan settlement area compared to the historic peninsula and highly preferred by Westerners. Following the edict that allowed foreign countries to appoint permanent envoys at the Ottoman Empire, all embassies with the exception of that of Iran, were opened in the Galata and Beyoğlu district. The earliest examples of almost all Western movements that had an impact on İstanbul sprouted in the Galata and Beyoğlu area; the first municipal activities, first electricity, first coal gas, first tram, first underground funicular, first municipality have all found life here. Galata became the empire’s gateway to the West.


From the xvıııth century,Galata started to develop and spill over the city walls. Cadde-i Kebir [Grande Rue de Pera], or İstiklal Street as it is known today, leads to Taksim from Galata walls. A second, parallel street that developed to the west of this street, on the hillside overlooking the Golden Horn is the Meşrutiyet Street formerly known as Kabristan-Mezarlık Street. From the first quarter of the XIXth century, the inns, which had been the sole means of lodging, started to be replaced by hotels. In addition, multi-storey and multi-apartment buildings were also built. Two fires in 1810 and 1811 devastated the entire Beyoğlu region. However, the construction of two bridges that facilitated access to the city in mid-XIXth century further consolidated the area’s contact with the city. Particularly the ban on wooden buildings in the area, introduced after yet another fire in 1870, accelerated the spread of stone constructions.


During this rapid development boom, where the local architects and artisans specialized in wooden construction fell short, foreign, and particularly Italian, architects and artisans filled the gap. One such architect is the 1841 born Italian Guglielmo Semprini. He came to İstanbul after 1870 and became one of the foremost personalities of the Italian community in no time, earning the profound appreciation of foreign diplomats and Turks alike with his works. His architecture office, which was situated on 38 Sururi Street in Tarlabaşı, built many structures in Beyoğlu from 1870 to 1912. According to his contemporary A. Mori, Semprini built a structure on almost every street in Beyoğlu; but unfortunately, none of his blueprints has survived to date.


Situated on block no. 315, lot no. 15 in Asmalımescit district, the structure facing the Meşrutiyet Street is a work of Semprini that was erected in the last quarter of the XIXth century. On the right hand side of the building, which Guglielmo Semprini built to rent out for revenues, is the inscription “G. Semprini, Arch.” Designed in accordance with the architectural characteristics of the period, the structure is also marked in the maps drawn by E. Goad in 1905. It can also be seen in the map sections [53 and 54] drawn by Suat Nirven in October 1950 as the Rosolimo Building. Following the foundation of Pera Museum in 2005, Suna&İnan Kıraç Foundation started its work to establish a research center for İstanbul, similar to the Mediterranean Civilizations Research Institute [AKMED] it had established in Antalya in 1996, and decided that the Rosolimo building should house the institute. In line with the transformation of Tepebaşı into a commercial area from a residential area, the structure was used as an office building and underwent extensive renovation particularly on the ground floor where several windows were merged to create display windows.


Rosolimo buildıng was constructed as a stone structure due to the requirements of the time. Its façade overlooking the Meşrutiyet Street features significant characteristics both in its architectural arrangements and with its decorative elements. On the other hand, its rear front facing the Kallavi Blind bears no unique architectural characteristic like those of many Beyoğlu buildings. The structure is comprised of a total of seven floors including a basement, a ground floor, four upper floors and an attic, and its structural system is based on iron beams placed on gradual brick walls starting from the basement [brick arch floor]. Designated as an apartment building in its planning principles, the building lacked maintenance for a prolonged period, as a result of which the rain water that permeated from the roof and sidewalls as well as leakages from wet areas devastated the structural system of the building to a large extent, while the portions of “I profiles” embedded in the walls that constituted the flooring bearers entirely melted away, losing most of their load-bearing capacity.


The stairs situated across the main entrance in the original plan of the structure opens to a small vestibule and to the floors. The façade of the floors featured six rooms including a room with balcony, an adjacent room, two luminous rooms behind them, and two rooms facing the rear front. To the right of the narrow corridor that connects these two main sections are a small, luminous kitchen, bathroom and toilet. The greatest challenge brought by the desire to use the structure as an institute was making sure that the structure could bear the load of specialized libraries. It was decided that both front and rear sections of the structure should be continued as separate axes in accordance with the same planning approach so that the necessary elements and areas including air-conditioning systems, wet areas, fire escape, and elevator could be added while the central section be rebuilt using ferroconcrete from the basement up and the structure was restored in accordance with this understanding.


The areas required for the conversion of the structure into an institute were obtained by expanding the doors connecting the rooms. The old kitchen was replaced by a ferroconcrete fire escape and bathroom by two restrooms and a small floor kitchen. As the building had an elevated main entrance, which is three steps above the street level, the disabled access was installed on the rear front, which faces the Kallavi Blind. Following the removal of the plasters during restoration, it was seen that the façade of the structure was stone and part of these stones were cleaned while the rest were replaced to ensure that the front would be restored back to its original form.


For years on end, no organized research group had been found save universities and foreign missions to study İstanbul’s habitation history and its settlement characteristics, the texture of its streets, its works of monumental and civic architecture, and its abstract cultural heritage. Nestled in 47 Meşrutiyet Street, İstanbul Research Institute has been making an invaluable contribution in the field since 2007. In addition to its sections such as “Atatürk&The Republic Studies”, “Ottoman Studies” and “Byzantine Studies”, it also boasts an extensive “Library”, which is set to exceed 100.000 books, and an “Information&Document Center”. And situated on the ground floor is a small “Gallery” arranged for exhibitions that would support the projects produced by the institute.

Picture Gallery
  • İAE Kapak