Concrete at Alserkal by OMA

© Photograph by Mohamed Somji, courtesy Alserkal Avenue
Our building in Dubai is now open to public. Rem Koolhaas visited Dubai this week for its opening and also gave a lecture on the wider context of Dubai. You can also find the lecture on Alserkal’s Facebook page. In his lecture he talked about some of the projects you probably have not seen yet, it is a must watch if you are practicing in Dubai as an architect. I am hoping that this building will accelerate the process of building by taking more risks in Dubai. See the project page for more details!

Bandirma Park

The design  park will become an iconic development  that accommodates design students, professionals and host temporary pavilions, sponsored events. Design park is at the same time a weekend destination for the city to socialize.

As you approach using the ferry from İstanbul to Bandırma, you will start seeing the tip of our convention hall. And as you get closer, on the top of this beautiful hill you will start seeing the silhouette of all of the buildings. We have aimed to create this unique experience through architecture by maximizing the negative space in the buildings that will not count as part of floor area. While we do this, each building started have its own courtyard, its own atrium that becomes a pocket in the park experience – almost like a cave. The iconic character of the buildings is to an extreme extend that 5 star hotel is hosted within a pentagon plan and the four star hotel is located within a rectangular plan.

We were astonished by the beauty of the existing landscape and did not want to add or remove anything from the nature apart for a network of walkways to ensure the park is secure and easy to navigate through. On further stages of the project, the ruins of the military buildings can be carefully cleaned up and these spaces can become outdoor cafes, pop up stores. The ruins can be developed by the designers that occupy the buildings following a competition phase every year. Which will allow us to have a richer spatial experience within the park.

It was decided to keep the interference with the preserved zone to minimum. We proposed a local market like tent built on cables that run from the centre of the park to each building within the masterplan, for semi-shaded space above the exposed ruins. The edges of the site is occupied with the buildings forming a circular path around the hill which can potentially turn into a full circle development in the future allowing the ring road to meet Marmara Sea. All back of house and vehicular access is located at the close proximity to the existing road and the central part of the park is reserved for pedestrians.

The retail space is proposed to have three types. First being the permanent retail space below the 5 star hotel, second as the spilling out towards the central – transitional kiosks in the park and the third as the temporary cafes, pop-up shops within the listed buildings. The mall is located under the five star hotel and is a semi-indoor space opening towards the centre of the park like a castle bridge.

Bandirma Park has the flexibility to expand, by adding in-between structures in the near future because of the necklace like arrangement of buildings around the central point of the park.

Kirsehir Planetarium


Our new project is available on issuu and our website: 

The internal organisation and the look of the Cacebey Medresesi in Kirsehir was the nucleus for the design of our Planetarium project. Cacabey is made out of different components expressed on the exterior, forming one single building. These components are taken to the new site and are re-defined programmatically as the entrance, ticket hall, observation hall, projection room and the library for the planetarium. They are spread within a sequence on the given site with no sense of directionality or given overall form to the building. The only defining principle of the sequence was where the journey starts and ends.

The center points of the components are connected with sheer walls creating a necklace which define and frame the interior for the ground level – not letting the daylight in at all. The second floor sits above all, like an egg-tray fixing the components into their position, acting as the roof terrace for the building. All the program requiring daylight is located at the second level.

The roof terrace (third level) is planned as a 24/7 observation deck for the public use in the form of a amphitheater, as a semi-public space – which has its own spiral staircase letting public skip the ground floor and access the roof immediately anytime of the day. Walls frame the terrace intentionally letting only the observation of the sky.

The facade is made by a single translucent component that repeats in two directions via operation of flipping, wrapping the entire second floor. This translucent component would allow daylight to diffuse into the classrooms and offices at the second floor. It would also allow the components forming the building to be expressed on the facade by their shadows. The inhabitable, deep steel frame forms the structure of this level.

The vast landscape against the tiny building given in the brief forced us to think about the landscape as a topographical element that stretches between the edge of the building and the edge of the site. We did not want to ruin this landscape with a car park at the ground level therefore the fabric like landscape bulges at the entrance of the underground car park. This hill like situation allows public to experience the building in different perspectives including the view that hints the presence of a secret public space, the terrace above the building.

Kirsehir Planetarium, with its ripples of landscape as echoes of its building boundary is designed to be a brand new public space that connects the new mosque with the new cultural center and the rest of the city as a cultural public plaza for Kırşehir.

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: