Travel Guide: Exploring the Modern Architecture of Turkey

Turkish architecture embraces the contrast between its complex history and contemporary development.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Turkey has become a global cultural epicenter. Combining a diverse and rich history with new development, the country is known for its eclectic and historic styles situated side-by-side. Home to one of the fastest growing metropolitan economies in the world in Istanbul, new modern architecture is being built across the country. Going beyond orthogonal and pragmatic designs, these projects are made with novel building envelopes, open public spaces, and diverse relationships to the landscape.

Drawn from across Istanbul and Turkey, each of the following eight projects take inspiration from their larger contexts. Showcasing the country’s contemporary architecture, they represent new construction methods and formal explorations. Designed with diverse programs across a range of scales, they include private and public projects alike. As these projects are built, they begin to establish new connections to the surrounding urban fabrics and the history of each site.

Garanti Bank Technology Campus by ERA Architects, Istanbul, Turkey

This project transforms an old industrial chemical factory land into a technology company campus for one of the most dynamic Turkish banks. Inspired by the natural topography around the site and the desire of creating a clear contrast to the surroundings’ urban fabric, the project takes the form of a crystal volume over several artificial hills sheltering various functions. These include two 600 and 200 seats auditoriums, educational meeting spaces, cafeterias, lounges on bridges, data center and many other functions. With approximately 142,000 sqm total built area and 51,000 sqm site area, the campus program is configured into three major sections: 53,500 sqm of open offices, a 16,000 sqm auditorium, educational spaces and cafeterias, a 72,500 sqm for parking, a Tier 4 data center, a sport center, common spaces, archives and service areas.

Yesilvadi Mosque by Adnan Kazmaoğlu Mimarlık Araştırma Merkezi, Ümraniye, İstanbul, Turkey

Built as a center for education, information and a place to dispute settlements, this mosque provides an area for Muslims to come together for prayer. Gold leaf was used in the design to symbolize endurance, abstract existence and both Kufic calligraphy. The Yesil Vadi Mosque is designed from emphasized function and identifying components. Bearing in mind, all of the traditional, spatial, semantic criteria this mosque takes the concept of communal memory to heart. The mosque consists of a 350 person prayer area, 250 person meeting hall, library, social activity units, courtyard and square. All of these components combined together to form a social complex.

Raif Dinçkök Cultural Center by EAA – Emre Arolat Architecture, Yalova, Turkey

Yalova is located in northwestern Turkey near the Sea of Marmara. A city of about 100,000 residents, it is known for its industry but also its arboretums and rich variety of endemic plants. This project features perforated weather-resistant steel with a rusty surface that was chosen for exterior surfaces. It is a kind of homage to industry and to the resilient forces of nature. A multi-purpose room with a capacity of 600 persons, a workshop for up to 150 people, wedding and exhibition rooms and an office and cafeteria are part of the scheme within specific volumes that are disconnected from the building façade. These functional volumes are connected to each other by a ramp that forms a sheltered inner street. Recreational and service areas are situated between the functional volumes.

Antalya Aquarium by Bahadır Kul Architects, Antalya, Turkey

The Antalya Aquarium in Turkey was made to be in harmony with its surrounding landscape. Combining a public area with interior program, the design includes a wavy, curvaceous shell that helps protect from the wind. The Antalya Aquarium design process was centered on creating a vanishing silhouette and harmony with the surrounding topography. At the back of the ground floor, a shaded public area was created to protect visitors from the wind and allow them to enjoy the sun. This area is a point of approach, gather and diffusion for the project.

Selcuk Ecza HQ by Tabanlioglu Architects, İstanbul, Turkey

The Selcuk Ecza HQ was designed around the client’s desire for spatial organization, aesthetics, and scales to be intimate and relatable in nature. Taking inspiration from Istanbul’s waterside mansions, the headquarters combines multiple volumes under hipped roof forms. Like a small county settlement, the juxtaposition of seven house-like volumes form the campus. These individual ‘houses’ integrate to each other either through gardens, roof gardens, upper or lower patios and paths and atriums. In turn, the brown color of the exterior creates a the soft wood effect and unifies the structure.

The Farm Of 38° 30° by Slash Architects, Tazlar Köyü, Turkey

The Farm 38° 30° is an iconic boutique dairy factory that derives its name from the coordinates of the site it is located in, the “Valley of Art” in the village of Tazlar village in Central Turkey. Located at the entrance of the valley, this dairy factory offers degustation for visitors, all the while exhibiting the production process of the dairy products of the farm. While ensuring maximum efficiency for the production line as in a “classical” cheese factory building, the boutique factory adopts a more contemporary attitude via its monumental form. The factory typology is upgraded from the status of a simple production space to that of a cheese showroom. The building wraps around an inner green courtyard and opens itself to the exterior via its large welcoming canopy.

Sur Yapi Offices by tago architects, İstanbul, Turkey

Operating as an office to promote a nearby high-rise residential complex, the Sur Yapi offices combine space for administration, sales, and exhibition. Designed as an unique, prismatic mass, the projects includes geometric wooden panels that create a striking expression as seen from the street. The solid-void relationship also helps control sunlight within the building interior. It is primarily a sales office of the high-rise residential complex which is located next to it. Later on, building is going to be the head office of the construction company.

Vakko Fashion Center by REX, Istanbul, Turkey

Restructuring an unfinished, abandoned hotel, the Vakko Fashion Center was designed as a dynamic headquarters and renovation project. With a demanding construction schedule, the building was created with speed as the design’s most significant parameter. A dramatic interior space known as the “Showcase” combines offices with a mirror-glass clad envelope to form a mirage-like exterior around a unique spatial experience. Program adjacencies and code/exiting requirements dictated the final stacking of the boxes.  The slopes of the auditorium, showrooms, and meeting rooms create a circulation path that winds from bottom to top of the Showcase.  The Showcase is clad in mirror-glass, cloaking the steel boxes and enlivening the building’s interior to kaleidoscopic effect.

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