The Life and Times of Istanbul series is about the cultural programmes, artist and designers in the transforming city. Read Part 1 here.



When founding director of SALT, Vasıf Kortun stepped down earlier this year, he criticized the position of cultural foundations, though not from a narrow frame of only recent changes in Turkey, but from the broader perspective of late capitalism. His remarks were on change, keeping pace with today, embracing past and future, programming and branding. These are, after all, the ingredients that have made SALT able to provide a programme as diverse as the culture surrounding it.

Inside the SALT Beyoglu building is the Walk-in cinema by Suyabatmaz Demirel Architects.
SALT has become a very important cultural institution in Istanbul since its opening in 2011. Originally the headquarters of Ottoman Bank, the building was built in 1892 by Istanbul-born Levantine architect Alexandre Vallaury. The renovation, by a team led by architect Han Tümertekin, infused the institution’s unique character into the eclectic building. The research centre, library and reading room - SALT Galata - by SANALarc have become a popular shelter for researchers. Besides functioning as a public research library, SALT hosts a variety of exhibitions, lectures, screenings, workshops and other recreational activities.

So much more than an institution though, SALT has initiated an immense transformation of the cultural scene in Istanbul. One of the most interesting programmes to keep track of is Urban Food. Part of a collaboration with Kök Project, Urban Food and Urban Bakery concentrate on creating a network around sustainable food production, distribution and consumption. While the events bring together everyone interested in gastronomy, the true agenda is exploring and sharing Istanbul’s constantly changing food culture.

The Urban Food programme at SALT.
From artisanal baking to the food stories of Syrian or East African communities, the project is cruising between different sides of the subject. Gastronomy is an essential part of a city’s culture, but not a historical and frozen one. Food is an important design object once you realise that it has a personal story and an intricate network behind it. But it is not static; with a little invention, a lot of history and bold new contributions, food is constantly evolving. Urban Food series is highlighting those evolutions in Istanbul’s food network.

This is Part 2 of The Life and Times of Istanbul series, about the city's evolving cultural scene.