City of
the Sultan


De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam (NL)

Almost 300 art treasures of the sultans (1400-1800) from the Topkapi Palace and other Istanbul Museums came together in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. As the concept for the exhibition, the client proposed the city of Istanbul. Our task was not to literally make a copy of the whole city. Even more important was to find a place for a Turkisch Muslim City in a Dutch protestant church. The solution lay in Istanbul itself, a city that has always been the connected point between east and west. The Hagia Sophia, originally built as a church and later turned into a mosque, is the example of the coming together of Christian and Muslim elements. The Nieuwe Kerk could certainly be consciously used as a setting.

De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam (NL)
Stichting De Nieuwe Kerk
1700 m2
Spatial design, Graphic design
Herman Kossmann, Caspar Conijn, Martijn Sas
Light design
Rapenburg Plaza
Tungsten Studio
Sound design
Dick Schuttel
Interior contractor
Hypsos Leisure
Technical installation
Flashlight Rental
Audiovisual realisation
VHS bv, Avifac Audiovisual Facilities
Arabic typographics
Thomas Milo
Turkish patterns
Turkish carpets

Laying down 700 square metres of Turkish carpets transformed the church into a mosque-like space. Printed cloth of various shapes and sizes showed typical Turkish buildings such as the bazaar, the coffee house, the mosque and the hammam. These grand gestures played with the monumental architecture of the church and determined the ‘first impression’

Wandering through the city

In the exhibition, the visitor moved through an abstract Istanbul, wandering through little streets and large open spaces, taking in views and vistas. Because the focus was on the essence of the city-the light, the sound, the typical architecture and the lush use of tile patterns- the whole church exuded the atmosphere of Istanbul.

The soundtrack of the exhibition drew from contemporary recordings from various places in Istanbul. The bargaining of street vendors and the hum of merchants selling their wares in the bazaar were audible in space. Lighting design also played an essential role. Not only the collection, but the church itself and the ‘city’ were illuminated so that the church became the backdrop for an eastern fairytale.


The Great Indoors Award 2007

Show & Sell, nominated

FX International Design Awards Londen 2008

Museum or Exhibition Space, finalist