\"Do not allow heritage to dominate, but rather inspire\" – Architect, Melkan Gursel

"Do not allow heritage to dominate, but rather inspire" – Architect, Melkan Gursel

Architectural insights

Text: Faizal Dahlawia

Image: Tabanlioglu Architects

A new high profile project involving Turkey's iconic Beyazit Public Library is putting an architectural firm in the spotlight. Step forward Tabanlioglu Architects...

With a desire to please aesthetically and perform functionally, the line between art, architecture and tradition is consistently pushed and challenged. Tabanlioglu Architects, one of Turkey's most prominent architectural firms, is at the forefront of this new revolution and Buro 24/7 Middle East spoke with its architect and partner Melkan Gursel, for insights into the trends and the future.

What is the architectural trend right now?

I believe simplicity will soon be the new trend; that doesn't mean primitive, of course. The snail has a perfect form, yet its spiral is the simplest form. High technology will allow us to reach the perfect level of simplicity and elegance. 

Tabanlioglu Architects is renowned for both its fresh yet restorative works. Is there a signature style that is applied to each project?

Be it renovation or from scratch, every project is a new project with its undreamed capacities and probabilities. Our architectural philosophy has always been dedicated to being in harmony with "the place" and creating "places for people". Our projects never compromise the practicality of the structure just for it to appear different. We strike a balance between creativity and functionality. Despite the most contemporary technique and methods, we involve local values in the design, from vernacular heritage to natural resource.

Smart, resourceful, elegant and functional are traits that make up our signature design style.

Architectural insights with Tabalioglu

Can you name three of the most critical factors when designing a space?

The direct user, environmental harmony and feasibility! It is important to consider the user and their requirements, factor in the locality and natural resources of the space, and aim for betterment and practicality.

When it comes to design, should heritage play a part? Will the world risk losing its culture if every new project is all about modernity?

You cannot deny heritage, it's everywhere, so yes. But do not allow heritage to dominate, but rather inspire. Each era adds its layer upon the preceding layers, and I find that some of the best design works arise from projects that strike a balance between the old and the new.

How vital is the co-relation between art and architecture?

Art is not a piece of object; it is a way that transforms. Architecture houses art and changes with art. Whenever the two disciplines stay close during creation and realisation, the product becomes more humane, more beautiful and lively.

Architectural insights with Tabalioglu

Would you rather have a building that looks like its part of the natural landscape (a more organic design) or one that stands out and immediately catches the eye?

To me, organic does not mean flowerlike, that may be art nouveau. But yes, I would like our designs to amalgamate with the environment, either in nature (depending on the location, of course), or in the urban context. One may be noticeable without being fancy. A good building should succeed to silently, and reasonably, fit into its surroundings. This attitude cannot be ignored as of respectable value, making the building visible no matter the appearance. 

How has the loss of Zaha Hadid impacted the design and architectural industry?

Zaha Hadid was an inspiration to many and she has definitely left an inerasable mark in the architectural realm. She has also raised the bar for modern architecture and broken a lot of stereotypes and barriers that paved the way for future architects. She urged engineers and our minds, and her works have become bold design examples of our time.

Architectural insights with Tabalioglu

What is your favourite architectural piece in the world?

Being from Istanbul, I cannot close my eyes to Hague Sophia or the architect Sinan's magnificent mosques and kulliyahs; I am so lucky to have several of them included in the panoramic view of my apartment.

If there was one project you'd like to be a part of, what would it be?

A space station! There are no limits to design, except the basic requirements to stay alive. It is like directing a science-fiction movie.

Now, read about who's exhibitng at this year's Downtown Design

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