Turkey, Archaeology, Cultural Projects, Projects from Turkey, Anatolia
ZM Yasa Architectural Photography, Cemal Emden Architectural Photography

An archaeological site in Turkey features a simulation of an ancient village

Located on a plot adjacent to Turkey's Yesilova Höyük archaeological excavation site, a visitor's centre designed by Studio Evren Basbug Architects combines an intricate architectural programme comprising an artefact exhibition, active education and scientific research. 

An ancient burial site, Yesilova Höyük is unlike nearby tumuli in the Anatolian landscape. Located on the Bornova plain which is essentially a huge silt deposit, the site appeared to be completely buried underground and posed a challenge for archaeologists to identify the settlement. Discovered in 2003, the settlement dates back to the early neolithic period (6,500BC).

Consisting of a museum, archaeological laboratory and general services, which are spatially linked to each other, the centre's three main functions are spread throughout the linear building blocks that give the project its form.

Measuring at different sizes, the blocks are split between a ground floor which houses the reception hall, archaeological laboratories, a cafeteria, an activity centre, several media rooms and a conference room, and a first floor that is dedicated to the exhibitions. A 40m long ramp connects the two levels. 

The smaller block sits on the north side of the site and is both visually and functionally connected to the open courtyard, which serves as an outdoor working space for the archaeologists in summer time.

The viewing terrace extends from the main exhibition level and stretches out towards the excavation site and completes the visitor experience. Designed both as a vertical element balancing the highly linear scheme, the concrete torch is a visual indicator of the neolithic era as a real fire is occasionally lit. 

Outside, near the courtyard, a simulation of a small village representing the real ancient settlement allows visitors to "time travel", learning how to harvest, hunt, cook and perform daily practices over the course of a one-hour programme. 

The building complex consists of a steel structure formed by repeated identical H frames sitting on a concrete basement floor. While they are exposed visually inside, these steel frames are enveloped on the outside with modern materials, such as glass fibre reinforced concrete panels and multi-layered polycarbonate sheets. 

According to the architects, the foundations discovered on the site reveal that the ancient houses were constructed over Masonry foundations by using wooden structural frames, exposed visually inside but clad by mudbrick walls and clay surfaces on the outside. 

"The tension generated by the unique location and architectural programme of the facility is sustained at all levels by means of the architectural decisions and choice of materials," the architects said.

They added, "The architectural programme in the form of integrated linear blocks have been enveloped between two surfaces of different characteristics on two sides: The southwestern opaque façade (glass fibre reinforced concrete panels) which greets and welcomes the approaching visitor, and the northeastern translucent façade (multi-layered polycarbonate sheets) which gives the visitor hints about the archaeological excavation site on the adjacent plot outside."

Furthermore, the red colour on the GRC panels is a reference to the most commonly used colour on the household items belonging to the neolithic era. 

The materials used also suit the project's climate, creating a protective shield against the sun and a "translucent membrane" that allows diffused natural light to enter the exhibition space.