The Vehbi Koç Foundation Ford Otosan Gölcük Culture and Community Center, a culture, arts and sports center established in 2011 by the Vehbi Koç Foundation in collaboration with Ford Otosan. The center provides an environment for the development of the social, cultural and artistic lives of the local people. Established on a 2.7-hectare plot with 4,700 square meters of inside space, it serves an average of 100,000 Gölcük residents a year with an auditorium, VIP hall, exhibition hall, art workshops, sports hall, fitness salon, dance studio, an observatory, restaurant and garden.
The auditorium plays host to free classical music, traditional music, world music and jazz music concerts, as well as talks with musical figures, dance performances, and theatrical performances for adults and children. The program is arranged around a different theme every month. Picture and photographic exhibitions of the works of selected artists are held in the center’s exhibition hall. Artistic workshops, which are held every month, provide the opportunity for local people to try out different types of art according to their talents and hobbies. Since the center was founded, these have included adult workshops on model boat making, paper marbling, painting, ceramics, patchwork, Turkish folk music, Turkish classical music and bağlama (a string instrument); children’s activities have covered ceramics, painting, puppetry, mask-making and chocolate making workshops. As part of the “Artists of Industry” project, bodywork and painting experts working at the Ford Otosan factory produced sculptures out of sheet metal and waste materials. In addition, the center hosts panels, seminars and educational events. The Ford Otosan Beyond Disability Theater Club, which has been carrying out activities aimed at hearing-impaired people since 2013, won the Jury Special Prize at the 13th Direklerarası Audience Awards the same year and continues under the umbrella of the center’s project for promoting sign language.
The center’s sports hall includes indoor and outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, fitness and pilates salons, as well as a dance studio. The indoor basketball court serves as the home court of basketball and volleyball teams belonging to Ford Otosan workers, Gölcük Municipality and schools from the area. At the fitness salon, which has all the necessary equipment for healthy living and body building, Ford Otosan workers can work out for free with regular exercise programs prepared by experienced instructors. Also in the sports hall dance studio are courses in various types of dance, including Latin dance, given by experienced instructors. Pilates classes are held in the same studio.
The observatory allows visitors to look down on the Gulf of İzmit, an important bird migration path, and watch the wetlands within the Ford Otosan grounds and 152 different types of birds.
The center was designed and constructed according to ecological principles, and its renewable copper, wood and brick architecture was awarded the 2011 Arkitera Employers’ Prize and 2012 National Architectural Structure Discipline Award. The center’s open areas, with their striking natural beauty, include healthy walking tracks for visitors. The human figures made of rope by sculptor Kaya Özköprülü in the garden have become a symbol of the center.