Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
School of Foreign Languages in Izmir, Turkey by AUDB
May 5th, 2016 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: AUDB
The London based office AUDB has just completed a university classroom building in Izmir Turkey as a part of their on going commitment to research and development projects in the region. The building has also won the prestigious A Awards in April 2016.
The academic sector in Turkey is a fast growing field focused on innovation and quality. Over the last decade Turkey has put a large emphasis on higher education with university student growth of 121% between 2012 and 2014 in line with the BRIC countries. Reaching 5.5 million in 2014. This growth in higher education is also having a positive affect on the quality of education with a sustained increase in world ranking. The key to this growth has been the private Foundation Universities that have been established over the last 30 years.
The City of Izmir lies on the Aegean Coast of Turkey at the bottom of the Bay of Izmir. The 3rd largest city of Turkey, Izmir has a grand and dramatic history. The city was called Smyrna until the founding of the Turkish republic in 1923 when the name was changed to Izmir. Smyrna was the birthplace of Homer and is mentioned in the Bible. Before the First World War Smyrna was a multi cultural city and arguably one of the most Cosmopolitan metropolitan areas in the world. A mixture of Greek, Armenian, European and Turkish, peppered with traders and immigrants from the Balkans, Caucasus, Arabia and Africa. In 1922 the city was devastated by fire at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. After the war the city was rebuilt according to Modernist principles.
Izmir University of Economics was established as a foundation university in 2003 by the Izmir Chamber of Commerce. It has 7500 students in a single campus in the Balcova district, with plans to expand to a new campus starting in 2016.
The design of the new Foreign Language Building at Izmir University of Economics offered a variety of challenges to the Architects. The first one being the amount of functions needed for a limited allocated space. The Balcova Campus is a densely built campus with 7 Faculties and the new building would fill the allowable built space to full capacity.
Convergence and connections; The building bifurcates into two programmatic forms, with the taller volume being classroom functions, and lower annexes originally planned as support spaces. The basement is used as a spa and gym for students and staff.
A classic multi-storey classroom building is a vertically stacked program with public and external spaces limited to the ground floor level. The building sits in a steep site, adjoint to an existing classroom building. Downhill the site faces an important campus square next to an entrance gate. The design exploits this challenging context proposing a morphed and weaved version of the classroom archetype. As it reaches to the ground the building open ups, bisects and expands. This creates multiple public and external spaces at various levels and configurations. Exploiting the landscape levels and context, access is provided into the landscape, adjacent building and to external spaces at multiple levels of the building.
The spaces between the masses are programmed in multiple ways, such as paved garden path, entrance ravine, small still internal courtyard and a rock climbing space. Two terraces at higher levels offer different environmental conditions depending on time of day or day of year; naturally ventilated solar shade in the summer and a sheltered space in winter. These offer views over a university square and a public park adjacent to the campus.
The silhouette of the Foreign Language building appears contextual and humble from external aspects, while brave and confident from the internal campus spaces. The building in that way becomes a landmark of the mind, rather than an immediate visual landmark to the wider context.
The brief for the building was developed with the client with the aim to provide facilities for the most advanced contemporary technologies with flexible and paperless offices and classrooms. This lead to a research into the optimal spatial geometry to allow for both the use of digital technology variety of seating plans. The design of the interior kept an existing stripped back design specifications in place inherited from the existing buildings on site, in order to seamlessly link the new internal spaces to the existing.
Materially the architects maintained the focus on contextually. Two prominent buildings flank the site, a 70´s style modernist block that directly connects to the new building, and a late Industrial style building across the campus square. Both buildings were constructed in the early 21st century. The material and assembly details from these two buildings directed the internal material solutions. The earthquake proof concrete structure is exposed internally with simple gypsum walls and linoleum floor finishes. An exception to this is the new lecture theatre spanning between the ground and basement floors. This space is configured using computational methods to form an internal surface optimised for acoustic performance. This space is still under construction as of March 2016. The concept for the building is closely related to the historical evolution, relation and learning of languages; Tectonically therefore the building tries to avoid the glass/steel typology of modernist office buildings. These solutions tend to create large problems with environmental controls of buildings. Rather the architecture goes back to traditional and contextual solutions. Solid walls are expressed with emphasised on sculpted perforation as fenestration. These window punctures are based on internal functions as well as solar analysis. Sun and daylight in the building changes through they day and the season, and the teaching spaces offer a variety of light and shade conditions to suit different teaching styles.
Each floor of the building is identified with it’s own colour. These are related to the flags of the various countries which language is taught at the University as the second foreign language after Turkish and English.
The building provides flexible paperless work-spaces for the teachers in open office environments. The office environment for a population of 100 teachers provides multiple ways and opportunities for working styles, giving teachers ways of working when and how they prefer.
The solidity of the building is played with as elements of nature, weight, scape and patterns. The two main masses of the building converge over the lower entrance space, creating a powerful gap adjacency over the entrance, reminiscence of natural caves. The same approach can be seen in the “heavy” mass sitting over the very open ground floor café, or the enclosed inner courtyard.
The design attempts to bring a sense of space, variety, colour and identity to a dense occupation of a strict archetype. Technology is a driving factor, but is not made to dominate the design aesthetic in any way.
We are pleased to announce that Ydyo University Classroom Building have been awarded the Silver A’ Design Award in the category of Architecture, Building and Structure Design by the grand jury panel of the A’ Design Award & Competition which consists of internationally influential press members, established designers, leading academics and prominent entrepreneurs.
The A’ Design Awards are the world’s most influential and largest design awards, presented each year in Italy. It is a great honour for us to receive this prestigious award and we would like to thank all of our friends and partners for their support and help along the way.