Construction of Gümüşsuyu Building started in 1840, in the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II, to provide a housing for the single workers of Tüfekhane-i Amire which is located in Dolmabahçe and used as light weapon production center of the empire. During the construction, the building was converted to the military barracks with some interior changes. The wooden building was completed in 1843 by Armenian architect Garabet Amira Balyan and utilized as Gümüşsuyu Barracks. In 1857, Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecit demanded the renovation of dilapidated Gümüşsuyu Barracks to settle “Hademe-i Hassa” and “Muzika-i Hümayun” which are service units of the palace. For this purpose, the main building of the Gümüşsuyu Barracks was converted to stone and the renovation was completed by architect Sarkis Balyan in 1862, in the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz.

A photograph of Gümüşsuyu Barracks from the first years after construction.

In the Ottoman Era, Gümüşsuyu Barracks housed “Muzika-i Hümayun” which is an institution teaching Turkish music and educating musicians for marching band and orchestra of the empire. With this aspect, it may be considered as one of the first buildings of today’s Presidential Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Gümüşsuyu Barracks were also used for the education of “Hademe-i Hassa” unit consisting of the ceremony and performance personnel of the palace. In the later years, the firefighters’ unit named as “Tulumbacılar” and the horse guards were also placed in Gümüşsuyu Barracks. The area which is used today as a gym and sports arena was allocated to build a stable for horse guards in 1863.

Dolmabahçe location and Gümüşsuyu Barracks at the beginning of 20th century.

In 1909, Gümüşsuyu Barracks went through a fire due to the negligence of privates at the map officers’ command. Despite the efforts of firefighters, the fire spread and caused a serious damage.

Gümüşsuyu Barracks went through a fire in 1909.

Transition of Gümüşsuyu Barracks to Engineering Education

The first civilian engineering school of Ottoman was founded in 1884 as “Hendese-i Mülkiye” within “Mühendishane-i Berri-i Hümayun” (Imperial School of Military Engineering) and commenced education in Halıcıoğlu. Nevertheless, it seceded from “Mühendishane-i Berri-i Hümayun” in 1909 due to the conflicts between civilian and military administrators. Taking the name of “Mühendis Mekteb-i Âlîsi”, it was incorporated in The Ministry of Public Works and moved to Faik Pasha Mansion in Tophane. Afterwards, Engineering School moved to seven different locations including Notre Dame de Sion and Harbiye Military College due to several reasons such as typhoid epidemic, World War I and occupation of İstanbul. In fact, Gümüşsuyu Barracks was first allocated to Engineering School on November 28, 1918 by Sultan Vahdettin. Physics and chemistry laboratory equipment were stored at the mosque in the atrium of Gümüşsuyu Barracks. Unfortunately, just one week later, before the students were able to settle in, British soldiers occupied the building and started to use it as a hospital. After being homeless for a while, Engineering School moved to its old location in Halıcıoğlu, leaving some of the equipment in Gümüşsuyu Barracks. However, it was left homeless again since the building in Halıcıoğlu was also allocated to British Military after the occupation of İstanbul. In the meantime, Gümüşsuyu Barracks, being used as hospital, went through another fire in April 1920 causing the burning up of its south frontage.

The sight of Gümüşsuyu Building from Dolmabahçe.

After buildings which are ineligible for education and lessons taught in dorms and cafeterias, the reallocation of Gümüşsuyu Barracks to Engineering School was finally reconsidered in 1923. After Turkish War of Independence and liberation of İstanbul, İsmet (İnönü) Pasha, who was the Secretary of Foreign Affairs at that time, requested the evacuation of Gümüşsuyu Barracks from British General Harington. In September 1923, it was decided Gümüşsuyu Barracks to host Engineering School along with Conductor School since both schools were urgently in need of location. Conductor School, which was converted to a technical school and moved to Yıldız in 1937, have become Yıldız Technical University in 1992. On October 20, 1923 move of Engineering School to Gümüşsuyu Barracks was completed and education was commenced. However, the restoration and renovation work of the building received in a devastated condition from British continued for several years. With a law enacted on May 24, 1928, Engineering School which was first founded as “Mühendis Mekteb-i Alisi” was converted to “Engineering College” and Gümüşsuyu Barracks were officially allocated to the institution. With its expanded academic staff coming from abroad during World War II, Engineering College have educated the distinguished engineers of the country since 1931 when it produced the first graduates. The college first located in Gümüşsuyu Barracks expanded with the addition of Taşkışla and Maçka buildings and was named as İstanbul Technical University in 1944.

Photo of Minister of National Education Hasan Ali Yücel cutting the ribbon at the opening of ITU in 1944.
Built as the barracks, Gümüşsuyu Building has undergone tremendous change while transforming into an educational institution. Building has lost its original structure with the additional decks and the removal of bathhouse and stable of horse guards. Today, with the classrooms of 11400 m2, laboratories of 13100 m2, dormitories of 9400 m2, sports facilities of 6100 m2 and convention halls of 400 m2, Gümüşsuyu Campus is built on a land with the area of 1.25 hectares and accommodates Istanbul Technical University Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Faculty of Textile Technologies and Design.
Evolution of Gümüşsuyu Campus from past to present.