Author : Ross Stuart Couper

University : Leeds Metropolitan University

Status : BArch, 2013

Title : The Sultanahmet Jewellers Academy

The project is in reaction to recent pressures on the jewellery sector of Istanbul, specifically focussing on the lack of apprentice jewellers taking up the craft and the general health of a once financially secure sector.

Situated in the Sultanahmet district, on the European side of the Bosphorus, the site faces one of the oldest mosques in Istanbul. Proposing a series of work spaces specifically designed for the interaction between master and apprentice jeweller the facility also provides the space for an artist in residence, a private vault for jewellery of the local community, a space for the trade and exchange of jewellery and a 5 storey high viewing platform that furnishes the site with a panoramic view of the Bosphorus set in the cities historic context.

Throughout the year the apprentice jewellers work closely with their allotted master jewelers to gain the extensive knowledge needed of materials and processes relative to the crafting of jewellery.

However what leads this project to stand apart from the previous mode of training is that the apprentice jewelers will also be given the opportunity to further the creative exploration.

With exhibitions taking place, regularly interaction and input from the students is greatly encouraged, in essence exposing them to master-classes in art and in jewellery craft.

Grounding in the craft and creative should provide the jewellers of tomorrow with the necessary tools to give the Istanbul jewellery sector the creative edge that it has lost in recent years.

The project builds on a historic relationship with jewellery that has firmly routed itself within Istanbul’s individual culture, so much so that many citizens choose to maintain their life savings in jewellery.

However if nothing is done to help the sector move forward with the times, it could be lost along with all the history and skill that goes with it. Another factor adding to “huzun” of the city.

A phenomenological approach was taken to the visualization of the project in response to the very nature of jewellery craft and its inherent link to the characteristics of materiality.