Regeneration X

EAA office block designed to begin regenerating Istanbul's low-income district

by James Forryan 04 November 2009
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    The Kağıthane region is going to be the subject of one of the urban renovation strategies in Istanbul that are designed to fulfill the increasing necessities of the business district for the European side of the city. Having functioned as the countryside for the city until 1900’s, the area surrounding the Kagıthane River has recently transformed into a typical low-income neighborhood as small and medium scale industries have slowly abandoned the area. Although the region is located next to the Büyükdere Avenue, which is the axis along the most important business districts of Istanbul and has a direct connection to the highway, Kağıthane has remained as a slum for a long while. Therefore how the capitalist expectations and demands contend with the existing physical and social environment of Kağıthane has become the main problematic of the project. The project strove to be not a generic office building, which comes into existence by ignoring the location and not considering its relationship to existent social and physical structure as a tabula rasa, but a building, which emphasizes its context, considers the existent building stock as an architectural reference and deliberates on the regional publicity while satisfying capitalist expectations. In other words, the project aimed to be an appealing investment for the capital while it accomplishes its architectural ideals.

    While its mass dispersion, size and façade regulations refer to the urban fabric of its existent setting, the project rises above the 8x8m square grid of the garage floor with different geometrically sized office blocks; with an average of 400m2 on each floor. As these blocks could be sold or rented as individuals units, they could also be used as one single office complex with the horizontal connecting bridges on different levels. While the intent was for the office spaces that were created by removing interior volumes from crowded blocks to have a homogenous distribution of daylight, the facades were designed to maximise the incoming natural light from various directions. With a similar attitude, floor heights were designed as high as possible within the specifications of the municipal regulations.

    The space in between the office blocks on the ground floor was considered as a public space for all the occupiers of the region with the support of commercial functions. As the only structurally stable elements of the ruined nail factory, the chimneys were integrated into the newly designed system to serve their preceding purpose.

    The architects are hoping that Kağıthane office blocks can set an example as a first to accelerate the future urban recycling projects, within the gray zone in between the expectations of the capitalistic economy and idealistic architectural inclinations.


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