Melkan Gursel, partner at Tabanlioglu Architects
Melkan Gursel, partner at Tabanlioglu Architects

Not every company should locate to 'opportunity regions', says Tabanlioglu's Melkan Gursel

In a recent interview with Middle East Architect, Melkan Gursel, partner at the award-winning Turkish architecture practice Tabanlioglu Architects, said that while the GCC is in ample demand for development, not all architecture companies should get involved. 

“Many cities in the GCC assert great demand for their urban development,” Gursel said. “This creates a valuable medium for architecture and urban design. We are willing to be a part of it and contribute to it.

“Yet, not every company should locate to ‘opportunity regions’; rather, only those that can truly contribute and that know the geography, people, behavioural patterns, social ways and production attitudes – they will be successful and beneficial for that place.”

Tabanlioglu Architects has projects across the GCC, especially in the UAE and Iran, as well as elsewhere in the world, from Senegal to Kazakhstan to Morocco. Approaching each project takes a unique blend of research, knowledge-exchange, and the indepth analysis of context, environment and culture, Gursel said.

While the firm’s design work is of high-calibre, the thought-process behind the firm's concepts is what drives its success. Most recently, a Tabanlioglu-led renovation of a library in Istanbul picked up a nomination for a 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture

The library stands as a great example of how the practice approaches its projects, as the team's modus operandi began with reviewing the site, the project's function, and learning about the community the project would cater to. It then determined a sensitive path forward that involved the reorganisation of the interior and careful restoration of the building's fabric, particularly of its prominent multi-domed roof. 

The architects' aim was to respect what was already there, they said, while contributing to the positive experience of those using the space and not overwhelming the contents of the library, which include precious, aged manuscripts. 

"Run-of-the-mill, mediocre projects may be usable, but they are not what people deserve," said Gursel. "We have the tools and information to design for a better and happier life for all."