Istanbul Courtyard-Tower

copyright OMA 2015
copyright OMA 2015

The Istanbul Courtyard-Tower is located in a former industrial area, currently being redeveloped, on the Asian side of Istanbul. While residential complexes in Istanbul are commonly designed as free-standing high-rise buildings, the 150 m high Istanbul Courtyard-Tower is a hybrid residential tower: a mix of the courtyard block and a high-rise tower. The project consists of three plots in total; along with the large residential complex of 217,500m2, there are two small plots covering 9830m2 which accommodate multi-purpose buildings with home-offices and retail spaces.

The form of the Istanbul Courtyard-Tower is the result of extruding the perimeter of the full plot with required setbacks of 26.5m from all sides. The building mass frames an inner garden larger than two standard football pitches, replete with trees and plants, playgrounds and multi-purpose buildings. The inner garden generates a communal setting within the large-scale housing complex, while simultaneously being well connected to the neighborhood via a public path which cuts through the building block.

The building is shaped in such a way that it maximizes the views towards the natural landscape which surrounds it: the Marmara Sea, the Princes’ Islands and the Aydos Hills. The building, which has a consistent thickness of 12m, accommodates single-loaded units served by multiple cores, over the full perimeter. Each unit provides access to a maximum number of 4 apartments. Due to this access strategy, 80% of the apartments have a double façade, facing the courtyard and sea to the south and the hills to the north.

The positioning of the balconies, providing the best views whilst also maximizing privacy in the lower areas, has generated an asymmetrical façade design. The façade consists of two major elements: an outer façade with horizontal stripes that become gradually thinner towards the top of the building, and an uneven grid spanning the inner façade, shaped by an overlap of the columns, which function as balcony dividers.


  • Rem Koolhaas
  • Iyad Alsaka


Presidential Library for Obama


Here is Building Office’s winning entry for Obama’s Presidential Library (for alternative ideas, competition by Chicago Architecture Club). It has been a very busy month so the online presence for this project is pretty limited on our side.  The project is about stacking 8 years of Obama Presidency on 8 floors, with a space for discussions on the ground floor – transparent to public. This space is penetrated with the presence of a public bridge.

Guggenheim Helsinki

VIEW FROM SOUTH EAST / image courtesy of Building Office © 2014

The common belief is, the curator and the artist are both happier when the architect is less involved with the gallery space in the museum. What is the role of the architect in the contemporary art museum in this case? Designing a fancy hat for the white box? Or scripting the sequence such a way that museum starts to do something more than just being a beautiful sculpture.


We proposed to redefine the site of Guggenheim Helsinki by a 3 x 3m units, as an empty canvas.

The focal point that welcomes the visitors would be the round gallery.The round gallery is wrapped by a spiral walkway that connects two levels of the museum. The walkway surrounds four galleries making a loop connection.


The grid is where the art is attached, removed constantly during the year. Therefore is permanent, is the infrastructure. Indeterminate grid four major galleries. Entrances to these galleries are never from the ground level. The entry moments are suggested to be a variety of experiences. In the round gallery, user enters the space from the mid-level, in the cubes, one gallery is to be entered from the door aligned to the ceiling, the other is from the corner while the final, wider gallery is to be experienced by entering from the opening at the floor plate.



Only technical equipment, collections are to be carried into the gallery spaces from the ground level openings using trucks. The ground level already is occupied – dominated by the traffic from the Helsinki port and is unpleasant because of the presence of the highway next to it. The perimeter of the building is effected by the cold climate most of the year therefore is not considered as the main focus of the design. The building is enhancing the inwards experience of the space: the great courtyards of art.

Taller or more Visible?

The height of their skyscraper is very important for many investors. Architects often argue the quality of the spaces is more important than how tall it is. In the special case of Istanbul, the strong topographical characteristic adds more interesting parameters to the choice of the site for the skyscraper that is often ignored by the investors.

The easy competition is to compare your skyscraper’s height with the heights of European skyscrapers since there is not much of a super tall skyscraper in Europe.

If you are building the tallest skyscraper of Europe in +10m to sea level, your skyscraper is likely to disappear behind the hills of Istanbul when it is complete.

The priority for the investor for the building is likely to be the visibility of the building and what you can see from the highest point when you are in the building.

The smarter approach would be to value the highest points in the modern district of Istanbul, Sisli where most of the new skyscrapers are located.

Therefore we have mapped the highest points in the Sisli district:

Building Office