Murat Tabanlioğlu comes from an architect’s family. With the long family tradition background taking back six decades ago in 1950, the Istanbul-based architectural firm’s base was laid by Murat’s father Dr. Hayati Tabanlioğlu – the renowned architect of Çankaya Mosque, Atatürk Cultural Center, Erzurum Atatürk University, Galleria ‘the first shopping mall of Turkey’ and Istanbul Atatürk Airport. True professionalism based on sound technical know-how and rigour, Tabanlıoğlu Architects has created a reputation in the world of architecture.

Reading Room

In 1990, the young Tabanlıoğlu along with senior Tabanlıoğlu (Dr. Hayati) established Tabanlıoğlu Architects. Melkan Gürsel joined in 1995 as a partner. The firm has won many prestigious awards for its magnificence project worldwide.

Johnny D talks to the renowned architect Murat Tabanlıoğlu in an exclusive interview about the WAF 2016 Award-Winning Project Beyazit State Library.

Johnny D: Heartiest congratulations for winning the WAF 2016 Awards for the magnificent Beyazit State Library Project. Please describe the feelings of winning the prestigious award!

Murat Tabanlioğlu: WAF is a great platform to see examples of contemporary architectural practice around the world and engage in relevant debate. Attending to the World Architecture Festival, since its first Barcelona event back in 2008, and having won awards previously, it is always nice to return home with a bright yellow trophy (smiles)!

The Site

We are proud by the awards and self-assured with our good architecture and future planning of the new urban life-style. If a building works well with the people who use it directly and those who only pass by are happy, it is a working and good building and that is the biggest award for an architect!

JD: Please tell esteemed readers of Design Trends about Tabanlioğlu Architects.

MT: Tabanlioğlu Architects is Istanbul-based firm. With more than 60 plus years of family tradition experience, the firm has exudes high quality of professionalism with its know-how and rigour. Always in the search of latest environmental developments and needs, Tabanlioğlu Architects has executed prestigious projects worldwide. Today, it has multiple offices located in New York, London, Doha and Dubai along with its headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey. The architectural firm operates mainly in Turkey, MENASA and the CIS Countries.

Book Shelves

Having won prestigious architectural awards for magnificent projects, Tabanlıoğlu’s works comprise wide range of building types. Envisioning needs of people of our era of novelties and rapid changes, we aim high to benefit new technologies respecting resources and existing values.

JD: What are the current projects, the firm is developing in various cities or countries?

MT: We are doing multiple projects from Astana to Dakar and various continents. New York and London offices were established last year, so our focus is on the US, EU and UK projects.

Istanbul Modern is Turkey’s first modern museum, Sapphire Tower is a residential project, Levent Loft & Loft Gardens is Turkey’s first loft, and many mixed-use projects like the Kanyon Urban Complex and Zorlu Center are some of our recent projects.

Plan: Before and After Renovation

Media Centers like DMC Ankara and Astana Media office buildings, Channel D and CNN Turk speaks of our design creations. ESAS Aeropark, Astana Train Station, Astana Arena, Tripoli Congress Center and many more projects were designed by our firm.

Many of our ongoing projects are located in Miami, New York, Doha, Bodrum and Istanbul. WE are working on hospitals, cruise port, shipyard development, residences, hotels and mixed-used projects.

JD: Please enlighten Design Trends’ readers about the magnificent Beyazit State Library Project in brief.

MT: The restoration meant the re-organization of the interior and restoration of the building fabric in the former soup kitchen and Caravanserai of the Beyazıt Complex, which surrounds the historically prominent Beyazıt Square.

The Beyazıt and its environs are historically charged with neighboring Booksellers Bazaar, which is still vibrant, main campus of Istanbul University and memory of the KüllükKahvesi, a coffee house, which acted as former gathering point of prominent artists and writers. And the square houses, the ebb and flow of daily public life.

Master Plan

The entrance of the library is through the square, and a courtyard welcomes the visitors. In place of the former concrete roof, now a light and transparent inflatable membrane structure covers the courtyard, filtering the daylight and providing a controlled atmosphere. In the surrounding spaces, the manuscripts are kept in special black boxes that provide optimum conditions, while creating an object of awe, in contrast to the renovated shell of the building.

Lighting Design by Studio Dinnebier, also followed the same careful but thoughtful approach, taking the spatial and historical qualities of the complex and creating depth and harmony. Especially the pendants that hang in the cupolas and soft lighting at the edges of the raised floor, that follows the wall contours introduce another layer of depth to the spaces, utilizing the qualities of the preexisting space and new interventions.

A View from the Book Shelves

All in all, it is an exemplary project that deals with how contemporary breath can be injected to a renovation project.
Originally, the State Library was a Caravansarai Complex and the soup kitchen. It had a kitchen, hospital, primary school, madrasah and a hammam. All these surrounded spatially the Beyazit Square to define it. The restoration work of the State Library required very sensitive reorganization of the prominence building fabric with its multi-domed roof, so that the interiors were intact like olden times.

Historical connections of literary nature infused the State Library area. It could be entered from the Grand Bazaar via the Beyazit Gate or the Beyazit Square. The courtyard on the site was the place for the book bazaar. The vibrant bazaar leads up to the Istanbul University and the KapalıÇarşı.

We designed the black glass boxes as the shell of the building. It is a stark contrast to the surroundings totally devoted to the manuscripts. It creates a sense of awe as a monolithic object. To provide a controlled atmosphere and filtering the daylight, we used light transparent inflatable membrane structure to cover the courtyard. Earlier, the roof was made of concrete.

The Modern Touch

The Lighting Design was done in a splendid manner by Studio Dinnebier. The soft lighting follows the wall contours at the edges of the raised floor, thereby giving another layer of depth to the whole ambiance. The Studio created geometries in harmony in the surroundings to give a spatial quality to the complex.

We shifted the entrance through the courtyard as per the new layout. Remains of a Byzantine Church were unearthed during our construction work. We preserved the remains and highlighted the area through a glass roof. Now, it looks like a gesture to respect the ancient spirit of the historical building.

JD: Please elaborate in brief about what was going in your mind to design such a massive project?

MT: The restoration of the Beyazit State Library is exemplary. The ‘minimal intervention’ approach ensured the spirit of the place survives, while modern facilities are grafted onto the historic fabric. Moreover, we wanted to include a layer of our time respecting – even aggrandizing – the values of the past as our city Istanbul is made up of layer upon layer throughout its 10,000 years urban history, all in harmony, although complex.

Grandeur

JD: Please describe the ‘elegance in design’ of the project as an architect.

MT: Elegance in design, most of the time comes through being true to the nature of how the project has become. The context it is located, economic conditions and actors, which bring upon the project, technical and spatial needs, building codes and regulations, design approach of the architect are assets to contribute and challenge at the same time. Despite the fact that “elegance” may get lost in the details of negotiations trying to obtain balance between conflicting opinions between involved parties, seeking for truth of the nature of those relations may bare it.

JD: What were the major challenges faced by your team while executing the project?

MT: The building, subject to our intervention, is a piece of history that we tried to cope with it as a framework, as an entity within itself, and as the existing space / texture surrounding our newly designed space. The major challenges were implementing the infrastructural and technological needs with minimal intervention to the original building, creating a specialized place for the rare books, keeping them on display while protecting them, placing a contemporary library within the old buildings and injecting the right dose of contemporary functional integration to the Beyazit Square.

Section A: Before and After Renovation

JD: How did your team overcome them creatively?

MT: Two interventions, the lightweight structure now covering the courtyard and the black boxes that house the rare books and manuscripts mainly reflect our team’s design approach. How our interventions related to the existing structure in volumetric, programmatic and material scopes. Additionally, the lighting project designed by the Studio Dinnebier created a subtle, yet effective addition to praise the existing texture and space values.

Section B: Before and After Renovation

JD: Please specify 5 major ‘Sustainability’ Characteristics in this project.

MT: When considering the sustainability of a design piece, it is imperative that the lifecycle of the project is considered, as well as, the physical materials and construction techniques.

Displays were designed to be modular and easily refurbished with the requirements. As the (protective) displays themselves were relatively small in scale and used lightweight materials, their usage was the factor that would have the most environmental impact besides its ability of transporting the heritage to the future.

Courtyard

We carefully considered how to regain the main / middle patio and the now-indoor space does not quickly become obsolete and have to be replaced in the near future causing a greater environmental footprint, besides the lightweight coverage material’s positive effects, including easy implementation and maintenance.

Last but not the least, balancing the insertion of contemporary interventions, including modern services and technology with the quality of the existing built fabric, BL, framing Beyazit Square maintains a factual contact with the Square as an extension of the city life, so the renovation leads its use by public intensely, claiming a sustainable urban betterment.

Sheer Magnificence

JD: What is the total area of the project?

MT: Around 2,000 sq m over two adjoining buildings, inn and the soup kitchen of the complex.

JD: What was the total cost of the project?

MT: Our architectural work was pro-bono, The AD Foundation and the Ministry of Culture covered the construction and production costs.

Church Remains Viewed from the Top

JD: From the designing stage to completion of the project, what was the time-period taken by your firm?

MT: We started talking about it years ago, yet the project phase lasted around two years, in a slower pace than our usual. We wanted to make sure design decisions were completely in line with the requirements of the project and they reflected our design mentality to its fullest. Since it is a State-led project, and a renovation, the implementation phase took slightly longer, and it was completed around ten years, after its first initiation.

JD: Construction Engineers are breaking frontiers to give shape to Architects’ Designs’ Vision. According to you, how much credit is attributed to their conscientious efforts?

MT: They are a force to be reckoned with! The engineers make it possible what we strive to initially achieve. We work with various consultants during the design processes and their input in various scales from the main structure to the finer details into a working and thoroughly designed whole.

Exhibition Space

JD: How would you describe Tabanlioğlu’s Signature Style?

MT: Aiming a positive public impact and to contribute to the architectural vocabulary of its time, efficient, feasible, novel and strongly belonging to its place and people.

JD: How would you define the intricacies of winning awards one after another as the Design Head?

MT: Awards are a reality of today’s architectural production and has become integral to our practice, though they are not the initial motives. WAF is a true architectural platform, and we highly appreciate the assessment our projects at this respected medium and by the esteemed jury.

The Modern Blend

JD: How would you describe Murat Tabanlioğlu as a professional and a person?

MT: Being originally from an historic and complex city of Istanbul, I am sensitive to existing values and carry the traces of a strong urban tradition. Having an architect father, a devoted modernist, surely influenced my practice in the direction of clean-cut building attitude.

I consider myself as a world citizen and practice research-based analytical methods. I am open to changes and developments and ready to integrate novelties in my works. I am more inclined towards well-defined personal relations.

Spectacular Reading Room

IMAGE COURTESY: The Architect

JD: Five awards…

MT: They are as follows:

  • WAF Future Office Project Award and MIPIM 2015 Best Office Award.
  • The Plan Awards selected three Tabanlıoğlu projects as the winners; Dakar Congress Center, Bodrum
  • International Airport and Astana Train Station in 2015.
  • ESAS Aeropark received LEAF Award and International Property Award in 2014.
  • Tabanlioğlu ranks 66th in “BD World Architecture” Top 100 list of year 2014.
  • RIBA International Awards for Loft Gardens and Bodrum International Airport projects in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

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