Office buildings, Istanbul, Urban regeneration

Turkish architects transform former chemical factory into technology campus

ERA Architects has transformed an old industrial chemical factory land into a technology company campus for Turkey’s Garati Bank, inspired by the natural topography of the site. The campus has received LEED Gold certification.

 Located between two major highways in Istanbul, the building is designed to contrast with its surrounding unorganised urban fabric.

A crystal volume forms the main working environment and lies over several artificial hills that shelter various programmes including two auditoriums, meeting spaces, cafeterias, lounges, as well as a data centre.

Boasting a total built area of 142000m2 and 51000m2 site, the campus is configured into three major sections: 53,500m2 od open offices, a 16,000m2 auditorium, educational spaces and cafeterias, as well as a 72,500m2 parking area, a Tier 4 data centre, a sport centre, common spaces, archives and service areas.

The horizontal floating volume connects the two plots of the site using hanging bridges and glazed screen walls that span over 30 metres.

The buildings’ main structure is a flat slab concrete system in the areas where the offices are located while an exposed frame structure was designed for the lower levels of the campus. Along the outer skin, office spaces have been freed out of columns by 4.5 to 11m deep cantilevers.

The widest cantilevering areas are supported by large composite beams placed on the roof. The four-level office block stands partially on a transfer structure to enable a widespan volume for the auditorium located within one of the hills.

Flexibility and maximising daylight was one of the key criteria for the working spaces, with accessibility to the office spaces organized through a set of elevated, open courtyards where the users circulate as well as rest and socialize at the various lounges placed on the bridges creating views and vistas.

Transparency is used to integrate working spaces with the surrounding city, allowing users to interact and create different experiences throughout the year.

Users can circulate the outdoor ground levels by following a path which undulates like a creek between the artificial hills. Outside on the ground outdoor level, the elevated volume has been designed to allow an experience of a journey for the everyday user. Ponds have been created to enhance the cooling effect for the outdoors as well as on the glazed facades to reduce temperature gain during the hotter months.

The building implements principles of sustainability by using double skin facade systems with dynamic sun shading integrated with lighting as well as special heating and cooling systems.

The facades have been designed as unitised systems that minimise heat from outside as well as acoustic insulation as the site is surrounded by highways with heavy traffic.

“During the initial stages of design when the site has been acquired, the old chemical factory had been removed,” the architects said.

“The existing pine trees from the old factory have been saved in addition to a few that have been displaced into newer locations within the site. Rain water harvesting has been used for the landscape mainly. The green hills were obtained by a system of cables embedded into the sedum surface from top to bottom of the artificial hills. It is one of the largest green roof system applications in Turkey.”