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Olbia Social Centre, Turkey (awarded 1999–2001)

The main city on the western fringe of the province of Antalya is the city of Antalya, once a major Roman port and occupied by Byzantines, Seljuks, and later Ottomans. Today it is the main city of Turkey’s central Mediterranean coast and a popular tourist destination. Located on a verdant plateau surrounded by mountains, the dense urban fabric is based around cobblestone streets, which curve to adapt to the extreme slopes of the city, with houses irregularly shaped to follow the streets. Akdeniz Universitesi is the main higher education and scientific research centre in the province. Its faculties and buildings are scattered throughout the city, although connected by wide roads and boulevards, following typical Western urban planning standards (ElKerdany, 2001). Alienated from the Roman/Ottoman context of the old city and offering no sense of identity, the university buildings, constructed in various modern styles (Baker, 2001b), stand between six and thirteen storeys high and are situated in various parts of the centre.

In 1997, Cengiz Bektas, an architect, researcher, and poet, was invited to give a lecture at the Akdeniz Universitesi about the town’s old city, to raise awareness about the effect of the campus’s dispersal on identity and on communication between students and teachers (Baker, 2001b). A year later the university commissioned the architect to design a new social centre to act as a binding element for the disparate parts of the campus. Due to the limited university resources, it was decided to finance the project using the now fashionable build, operate, and transfer (ВОТ) method. The firm chosen to finance the construction would have the right to run and profit from the project for nine years before transferring it to the university (ElKerdany, 2001). However, in agreement with the architect, the university rectorship had the final say in construction decisions. One of the main objectives of the programme was to keep construction costs down, for the benefit of both the ВОТ firm and the campus community. Moreover, other programme objectives were to provide a complex for the campus community with places for student social interaction and cultural activities.

In addition, Bektas had developed his own philosophical approach. He astutely realised that the community’s revitalisation would rely on the informal exchange of ideas between people from different disciplinary backgrounds, much like the dialogues held in Greek agora, Roman fora, or oriental bazaars, common places for dialogue and discourse in the ancient world. Bektas also highlighted the significance of informal learning and argued that students usually learn more from each other than from the formal classroom setting (ElKerdany, 2001). Bektas was personally involved throughout the duration of the project. Today the public spaces within the campus, which promote interaction between the users and the building, are a vivid testament to his success.

Bektas’s design incorporated a range of new social facilities (Figure 5.5), for instance shops, a small museum, an Internet cafe, a bar, restaurants, student clubrooms, an amphitheatre, and an auditorium that could double as a cinema or meeting hall (Anon, 2001). The buildings are organised around a central axis connected to a curved pathway similar to the layout of a traditional bazaar. A water channel, cooling the surroundings, flows from the

Olbia Social Centre, Antalya, Turkey, by Cengiz Bektas Source

Figure 5.5 Olbia Social Centre, Antalya, Turkey, by Cengiz Bektas Source: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Cemal Emden (photographer)

uppermost point of the site. The pathway widens to encompass two outdoor focal points for various activities, one of which is an open-air amphitheatre that accommodates 1200 people. This structure and the museum integrate the campus with the community and provide space for cultural activities. Paths link the main axis with the bus station, the student hostel, the rector’s office, and neighbouring university buildings (Baker, 2001b).

B2 House in Büykhüsun Village, Turkey (awarded 2002–2004)

B2 House is a private home in a mountainous region on Turkey’s north Aegean coast on the southern coast of the Dardanelles. The village is 76 kilometres south of the town of Canakkale. Seeking privacy, beauty, and tranquillity, without travelling long distances from their homes in Istanbul, two Turkish brothers, Selman and Suha Bilal, approached the Turkish architect Han Tiimertekin to build a house there as a place to spend weekends (Baker, 2004). The climate of the north Aegean coast is generally moderate and thus an ideal place to relax.

The house is built on the slopes of the periphery of the small village of Biiykhiisun, which is located on a rocky mountainside. It has a southerly orientation, facing the valleys and mountain ranges that slope down to the shores of the Aegean Sea (Al-Hiyari, 2004). The architect’s response to the sloping topography of the triangular site, which drops 7 metres from north to south, is based on the local practice of terracing. The site is divided into two flat plateaus with a difference of 1.3 metres, thus creating a long rectangular terrace, on which the house is placed, and a triangular terrace to the back of the house, which is used as a garden. Like local houses, B2 House is embedded in the slope of the mountainside. However, in contrast to the local housing typology, where houses are grouped around small walled gardens seeking privacy, there are no garden walls around B2 House (Baker, 2004). The house, completed in 2001, is exposed to the elements on its rocky promontory. In this way, while the site is absorbed by the surrounding landscape, it is still highly visible as if it were a sculpture on a plinth.

Limiting construction costs was a priority for the owners; therefore, anything unnecessary was eliminated or excluded. The materials and structure are expressed openly and left unadorned and unsheathed to reflect austerity and connect with nature - a feature described by the architect as ‘honesty’ (Figure 5.6). This approach is also very practical and makes the house extremely easy to maintain.

The house opens itself to its surroundings and encourages its users to immerse themselves in nature using semi-external and external spaces (Baker, 2004). The ground floor is simply dominated by a large living area

B2 House, Canakkale, Turkey, by Han Tiimertekin Source

Figure 5.6 B2 House, Canakkale, Turkey, by Han Tiimertekin Source: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Cemal Emden (photographer) and the upper floor by two bedrooms, both connected via an open external stair of wood and steel. The staircase rests on the upper terrace, three metres from the house, with a deck that links to the main structure. The external stair not only makes maximum use of the inner spaces of the house and eliminates any element that might distract from their purity, but also integrates nature with one of the typical domestic features. The balcony is steel construction with a wooden floor extending towards the interior on the second floor (Aye, 2012).

The house is simply structured as a rigid, monolithic box designed with local topography in mind. It was constructed to be able to resist seismic forces, since the area is subject to earthquakes. The east and west faqades comprise a tripartite composition consisting of two 1.2-metre-wide concrete structural members that frame a 3.6-metre-wide stone wall. Although this is sustained on the roof, the stones there are not fixed. The result is a continuous surface that wraps around and defines the mass, appearing to be a single folded plane. These features ensure a relationship between users and nature that is not simply limited to the detached process of gazing at the landscape (Baker, 2004). The house itself has become an integral and monumental part of the landscape.

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