AURA Design Studio, which has designed many award-winning projects in the fields of architecture, urban design and interior design, was established as a multi-disciplinary design office. It puts “new spatial experiences” at the main focus of her project productions, which include multiple actors, spaces and scales across disciplines, and continues its designs by conducting space production research in order to understand and strengthen the relationship of public space with the city and human life. We talked with AURA Design Studio’s founder Architect Filiz Cingi Yurdakul about sustainability, changing design approaches with the pandemic, and her thoughts on natural stone material.
How and when was Aura Design Studio founded?
Aura Design Studio was established in 2016 with the aim of being an expert office in both design and application projects, after nearly 14 years of project management and construction site experience. Our areas of expertise are mixed use projects, educational buildings, trade, office, housing, accommodation and interior design projects. We have been working for 6 years in both public and private projects to implement user scenario-oriented projects that offer new space experiences. In the last two years, we have received invitations from many competitions. The projects we receive by winning the competitions also constitute an important part of our work.
What would you say about your team, employers and working principles?
Our team consists of experts in the fields of design, implementation, modeling and BIM. In addition to project services, we also provide project consultancy and project management services. Our employers generally consist of public institutions and construction companies that we repeatedly work with the contribution of the project process satisfaction.
When starting projects, we hold a project kick-off meeting with our employers. Then we create a building scenario. In line with this scenario, we are preparing the building design and our presentations. This system, which we have been maintaining for about two years; It helps us to experience very positive processes and results for both the employer and the end-user.
As an office, you produce projects with a wide perspective ranging from interior design to urban planning projects. How do you manage these versatile design processes?
My professional experiences before the establishment of the office contributed greatly to this issue. I went through project production processes by taking on many different functions, sizes and different tasks. In the light of all these processes and experiences, your project approaches are of course in the context of both scale and design. We can focus on design and context issues when the issues such as predicting the problems that may occur during and after the project process and how the project process should be handled are clear. Small-scale architectural structures, interiors and master plan studies become designable in a common architectural perspective. And of course, as a team, we like to work in different scales and functions, we prefer. We see every project as a new experience and opportunity. We approach design with a broad perspective and vision. We are constantly monitoring and coordinating projects both in the design and implementation phases.
You state that the focus of your project productions is “new spatial experiences”. Could you elaborate on this approach?
As you know, architectural works have been evaluated together with their periods since ages. The last two decades were a period in which the designs of star architects and their own design languages came to the fore, with the name “Neo-Modernism and Parametricism”, and the user experience was handled with different and complex spatial languages. I think that this era is over and we are in a new architectural era. Teams such as MVRDV, BIG, UN Studio, Snohetta have been the pioneers of this design language abroad since the 90s. I believe that this new architectural period is a sustainable architectural period integrating with nature, in which architecture penetrates human life with new space experiences presented at human scale. As Aura Design Studio, we care about aesthetic and functional space designs that raise people’s living standards, and we always try new spatial approaches in all our buildings.
Public spaces are at the center of new life experiences today. In addition to our individual, tailor-made structures, the spaces used and experienced by the society are more meaningful and valuable. We attach great importance to public projects and our design processes. It develops on the axis of spatial quality, human scale, open-semi open-closed space relations, unhindered approaches- designs that integrate with the landscape. This axis ensures that all our structures are unique and specialized.
What would you say about material selection, which is one of the important inputs of architecture?
Along with the building mass design, the materials to be used in the building begin to be determined. The prominence of forms, user perception, and topography relationships determine our material choices. Natural stones with different colors and surface treatments, natural wood, white exterior paint and wide glass surfaces are the materials we use most. We follow new materials and use materials produced with new technologies together with timeless materials. We prepare a separate material palette for each project, request samples from companies, and make the final material decisions together with our employers before proceeding to the application project stage.
How important is natural stone in your material choices?
Natural stone is much more environmentally sustainable than many other materials. Its timeless appeal and less urge to change with the next trend make natural stones indispensable for timeless designs. For this reason, we often include natural stone material in our projects. Marble, in particular, is one of our most preferred materials with its elegance, timelessness and adding luxury and refinement to designs. It is a great option to be used in areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, where the design should be long-lasting in our homes.
Mix-match tiles offer us architects unique design possibilities that can be created with a creative alchemy of materials and techniques. Combining metal with marble, unique materials and the ingenious precision of cutting different types of stone with a water jet, these mixed material tiles add a personalized expression of personality and elegance to any design.
It is discussed that the pandemic process we are going through will reshape the architecture. What is your assessment of the reflection of this process on architecture?
The pandemic process reminded everyone of the value that should be given to architectural projects and design, whose importance has fallen into the background after the accelerating and increasing construction investments in Turkey in the last fifteen years. The increase in the time people spend in their homes due to the pandemic has again revealed the importance of design in our lives. Office and home buying preferences and reasons have completely changed. Designs that are strange to human health have lost their value. It has left its place to sustainable designs, intertwined with nature, receiving natural air and light.
What are your views on the sustainability dimension of architecture?
In the universe we live in, our life spans are not even a point when compared to the age of the world, but we live in a time when we care very much about ourselves and our special needs. This contradiction can only be resolved with a sustainable design approach. We are obliged to meet our individual needs in harmony with nature. The ‘structures’ that make up the urban fabric and our cities are at a critical point in this regard. This situation leaves us, architects, with no other choice but to design sustainable buildings. When we all do our part, the world will be a more livable place.
What would you say about your recent projects?
We are following our Mira Beytepe mixed-use project with two European Property Awards, whose construction site processes continue in 2022, our Gürbulak Border Gate project, which is Turkey’s third-largest border gate, and our educational and cultural structures. Gazi Anatolian High School and Öveçler Çankaya House were put into practice in 2021. On the one hand, we have new and ongoing projects. Our villa site projects in Ankara, where we continue their projects by winning the invited competitions, our accommodation project on an area of 65,000 sqm in Bodrum Yalıkavak, our detached villa projects, our OGM Training Campus in Karabağ and our interior design projects are some of our recent projects.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I think that the increasing construction costs due to the economic crisis in Turkey and in the world make the project processes more important with each passing day. I think that in the projects that have become widespread in the last fifteen years, the issues that have not been fully resolved have prevented and will surpass the resolution in the field. I believe that the increase in building material prices and construction costs will pave the way for works coordinated with static, mechanical, electrical, infrastructure, landscaping and fire projects, as well as architectural projects, and the quality of construction will increase with well-coordinated projects.