AMS Spring 2023

3D Printing-Modeled Serra Gate is an Eye-Catching Centerpiece of Istanbul’s Taksim Square

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If the words “Taksim Square” sound familiar to you, that’s because they were in the news in association with “Gezi Park” frequently for several months in 2013. Gezi Park is a small green space in the larger city crossroads in the modern center of Istanbul, Turkey. A much-publicized rebellion rose up in Taksim Square when city officials threatened to pave Gezi Park to add more shopping venues.

Images of protesters fending off police filled front pages for weeks. Now the park and the famous square have returned to activity as usual and this chic district boasts a new, noteworthy feature: the Serra Gate, a modular sculpture designed with Mathematica software and modeled, says its creators, Global Architectural Development (GAD), using the “latest 3D printing technologies.” GAD’s website features a series of fascinating photographs documenting the sculpture’s design process.

serra gate model

The airy, undulating form of the Serra Gate, which is a literal portal in the middle of the open space of Taksim Square, is better viewed from certain angles. The modular character of the piece — an homage to Richard Serra, the Minimalist sculptor famous for his large, outdoor metal sculptural installations — has a look of fragility. Perhaps that’s deliberate on the part of the designers, who evidently intended to reference the tension that remains after the protests, at times met with violence on the part of the government and the police, the precariousness of democracy in Turkey today.

Whatever the case, we think the lightweight steel horizontal beams and interspersed, pierced vertical components have a tenuous, stacked quality like a child’s toy giving the entire piece the appearance of a model: We can easily visualize the 3D printed models that led to the finished piece.

According to GAD, which is based in Istanbul with an office in New York as well and has been considered a leader in research and concept design in Europe for the past ten years, the Serra Gate is intended to “create inspiration through constructional interfaces.” We have to agree that the award-winning sculpture inspires thoughts of contemporary technology, including the interchangeability of modular designs for furniture and architecture, all of which can increasingly be produced via additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

Significantly, the Serra Gate is a traveling installation and was first exhibited in 2013 in the courtyard just beyond the Esma Sultan Mansion, a luxurious home on the Bosphorus Sea built for the daughter of the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid I, in the late 19th century. The Serra Gate traveled from the site, an overt reference to the defunct Ottoman Empire, to the thriving hub of the Turkish Republic. It goes next to Halic Port, the primary inlet of the Bosphorus Sea and major urban waterway leading to the city of Istanbul. It was this inlet that made sea trade possible and converted Turkey into a major hub and cosmopolitan city. We love the contrast between ancient technological innovation and contemporary, high-tech design and manufacturing.

serra gate in taksim

What do you think about the Serra Gate installation? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Designed Serra Gate forum thread over at 3DPB.com. Check out some photos of the 3D printed models of Serra Gate, from GAD’s website:

serra gate model main

serra gate 1 serra gate 2

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