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Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center, Istanbul, Turkey

Monday 03 May 2010

Fast-track architecture with a capital ‘A’

Iwan Baan 
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REX completes Vakko headquarters in record time 

Starting construction four days after receiving the commission for the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center by New York City-based REX gives new meaning to fast track design. A client asked REX to design and construct a corporate headquarters for Turkey’s pre-eminent fashion house in less than a year using a partially built, abandoned hotel as the basis for design. To meet the schedule, REX re-purposed its design for the cancelled Annenberg Center for Information at California Institute of Technology, and married it to the hotel structure. The fact that both projects shared a similar architectural DNA made the design doable. Both had similar dimensions, floor-to-floor heights, and geometries. While their structural concepts were different, the two buildings were enough alike to make their merger possible.

REX designed the headquarters as two structurally independent buildings, an inner and outer building. The outer building, the former hotel, houses flexible office space. The inner structure, named the showcase, contains the unique programs including the auditorium, showrooms, meeting rooms and executive offices as well as all the vertical circulation and restrooms. To dress up the former hotel building, REX wrapped it in structural glass, slumping an “X” in the center of each pane, increasing its strength to the point at which the exterior mullions could be eliminated. This had the effect of increasing the outer building’s transparency, revealing the showcase behind. The showcase is clad in mirror-glass, enlivening the building’s interior to kaleidoscopic effect. On the exterior, the mirror-glass obscures the showcase.

A beautiful image was critical to maintaining the client’s public profile. By embracing the constraints, REX was able to produce a building of exceptional quality while making a significant contribution to Turkey’s contemporary architectural landscape.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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