I wanted to talk to Burak Pekoğlu to understand Argül Weave because in my architectural understanding, a building cannot explain itself just looking at its photographs; one has to digest the story underlying it as well. In some of these stories, finding the traces of personal experiences or perhaps just looking for them would solve a great part of the job. Architectural critic should be able to look at the situation from many perspectives to be objective; and to evaluate it accompanied by these parameters. Architecture can be contextualized into process; but it is a must that first one should be able to weigh the process…
Yıldırım Neighborhood, which is a region of Bursa, left over from its glamorous textile industry, draws attention with its conservative composition and its opening its arms to urban transformation, to the hilt. The infrastructure work performed by the municipality for the developing area and the streetcar system to run through right in front of the building, on the other hand, are services increasing economic rent. The building is deployed on one of the corner lots of the neighborhood, aiming to use its location to its advantage. When the client came to Pekoğlu to design the façade of the existing building, he specifically asked that natural stone should be used. It was sought to create a distinction with its surroundings by using natural stone as material when the materials for the façade concept typically predominant in the area were precast and metal elements.
Pekoğlu, noting that while natural stone was a living thing, they plucked it from where it belonged and integrated with architecture; explained that they revisited medieval and primitive buildings for the project they developed, looking at the past as if creating a statue.
Well, how would stone get plasticized? The building located on the corner lot should be distinctive traditionally; but how could that be achieved?
According to Pekoğlu, reflecting the dynamism originating from its location to façade movements, creating a three-dimensional effect, was the right solution. They started to investigate how paneling system could be adapted to natural stone. While the steel frame the formed the bones of the structure, natural stone material became the flesh…
The team, going to İzmir Stone Trade Fair, meeting producers, eventually located a small workshop in Afyon and right after that, deals were made with teams gathered from all over Turkey. The principal action, which became one of the characteristics of the project which has three legs as teams operated in different regions (Afyon, Samsun and Bursa), was formation of all teams from individuals thinking in three dimensions. Pekoğlu mentioned that they made these three legs to believe in the project and that each individual in the teams had a contribution.
Pekoğlu was educated in the US in architecture and sees himself in the position of one of those architects who are hell-bent on learning when doing. Thinking that the architect has to take a risk, Pekoğlu sees Argül Weave as a “case study” and adds:
“It was very important to work with and make use of the experiences of right consultants.”
Blagovesta Momchedjikova, a consultant to the project, had this to say for Argül Weave:
“When The Weave building officially opens in Bursa, Turkey, in 2014, it will be the first structure of its kind in the region: master-minded by architect Burak Pekoğlu, it combines complex geometry with local labor and building materials—Patara beige natural stone for the façade, from Burdur, and dark-red Aegean marble for the plinth, from the Aegean area—to make a bold aesthetic statement in the textile industry hub of Bursa, Yıldırım: ‘A complex geometry can be scaled down to a buildable design. Right here! By us!’ The most difficult yet most fascinating part of the two-year project has been, according to Pekoğlu, a Turkish native, finding ways to translate the unique digital fabrication (the façade resembles a weaving pattern) to local use, where an artistic façade serves a dedicated function of access (hence, the carefully calculated window openings within the weaving pattern). But he quickly realized that before all else, he needed to adjust the architectural ideas to the local means of production: negotiating, humanizing, simplifying the process, more than once, and oftentimes remotely (while working on other projects abroad). Indeed, The Weave, at 4,500 square meters, three stories, and a sprawling rooftop garden-restaurant facing Uludağ’s grand mountain slopes, is custom-made, like a sculpture, relying more so on the craftsmanship of local builders and less so on the precision of machines. Its signature sturdy yet graceful stone elements, for instance, are shaped also by human hands, themselves consistently re-trained in the particularities of the design. And so, Pekoğlu and his team became also inventors of a new building style, unique to Bursa’s history, culture, production practices, and needs. The main braided motive of the structure then—the weave—pays homage not only to the textile heritage of the region but also to the meshing together of practices and standards embedded in its making.
This project examines some of the forces that helped shape The Weave into one coherent, and visionary, composition: from theories of modern architecture to practical knowledge of local customs, and ponders the importance of the structure in summoning the varied resources of Turkey’s Hinterland while also facilitating the creative synergy among the locals (workers, residents, users).”
Prof. Dr. Sibel Bozdoğan wrote the following on the project under construction:
“His more recent project for a business center in Bursa (currently under constructoplanan tion), offers even more convincing testimony to Mr.Pekoğlu’s ability to transfer design concepts and technologically innovative solutions acquired in the U.S. to the specific local conditions, constructional constraints and regulatory requirements of a major Turkish city. The result is a meticulously crafted building, designed in İstanbul and New York, manufactured by steel contractors in a Black Sea town, marble masons in Central Anatolia and engineering consultants in another western town, and in a remarkable logistical feat, assembled on site in Bursa. What Mr.Pekoğlu has accomplished here is nothing less than an architectural example of the post-fordist, fragmented and regionally dispersed models of production that global economies depend upon today, designed and coordinated by the kind of cosmopolitan, versatile, globally conversant and technologically “cutting-edge” experts like Mr. Pekoğlu.”
While budget and process management was done by the team, the project contributed a lot to everyone involved in it. Remarking that communications is a topic affecting the project process; Pekoğlu says that they slipped out of today’s render architecture; focusing on the product. The only limitation of architecture was the availability of a single producer and hence the limits of natural stone materials were pushed. To create a contrast with the surroundings, natural stone materials and natural wood carpentry were designed customized to their location. The project was resolved over models.
It has taken quite a lot of brain busting for capturing the right curves for the weave concept and to get the proportions right and this was tested also during production. The project, which was defined in detail when creating the curves from the change of material on its cross-section to its installation, and the economics of the process; has become evidence of how a product could be obtained working with the producer.
When actually a continuously reiterating form constitutes the backbone of the project, the façade comes to attention with its surprising movements when one goes around the building. The façade forms the energy of the building, which spreads also around it. According to Pekoğlu, the mystique of the building comes from the depth it brings to the box.
The building, yearning to become a passage between the interior – exterior, detached from ground; has three main functions: The gallery on the ground floor, multi-purpose offices on upper floors and the restaurant with Uludağ view, on the roof floor.
Pekoğlu is an architect who has specifically studied how the know-how phenomenon is achieved locally and economically. He says, therefore, “know-how” is the actual worth of the project and described it as a project which started a new age for the education of the client. The architect, stating that the most important phase of the project process is persuasion, noted that an extraverted project, which achieved its objective of creating what’s natural, emerged.
According to the architect, one of the pros of the project was their taking risk working side by side with the client. The nervousness of the client seeing the product disappeared and he was actually quite satisfied. Pekoğlu added that the building was owned up to by the neighborhood residents and was respected; so we got his word for touring the project together with its architect. In short, I’ll continue to tell the story of Weave in the upcoming issues as well…
3 KINDS OF NATURAL STONE MATERIAL IS USED ON THE PROJECT:
1. ON THE HOME FRONT: PATARA BEIGE – LİMESTONE WAS REMOVED FROM BURDUR ,CONSISTS OF A TOTAL OF 144 DIFFERENT KINDS OF STONE PANELS,APPROXIMATLY 130 TONS OF WEIGHT, 60 TONS OF STEEL WERE USED IN THECARCASS, 2 BASE: THE AEGEAN RED MARBLE, 3 PAVEMENT ANDAZIT STONE
PROF. DR. SIBEL BOZDOĞAN: “WHAT MR.PEKOĞLU
HAS ACCOMPLISHED HERE IS NOTHING LESS THAN AN
ARCHITECTURAL EXAMPLE OF THE POST-FORDIST,
FRAGMENTED AND REGIONALLY DISPERSED MODELS OF
PRODUCTION THAT GLOBAL ECONOMIES DEPEND UPON
TODAY, DESIGNED AND COORDINATED BY THE KIND OF
COSMOPOLITAN, VERSATILE, GLOBALLY CONVERSANT
AND TECHNOLOGICALLY “CUTTING-EDGE EXPERTS.”
Project Location: Bursa
Architectural Office: BINAA ve Smart-Architecture
Design Team: Burak Pekoğlu (BINAA), Matthew Fineout (Smart –
Architecture) and A. Yağız Saraçlar
Construction Date: 2014
Total Construction Area: 4,500 m²
Structural Engineer: HYT Engineering
Construction Chief: Enes C. Özmaya
Stone Fabricator: Bayburtlular, Afyon
Wood Fabricator: Yapısan, Bursa
Client: ARGÜL Textile
Photographs: Thomas Mayer
Argül Weave is sited in Bursa in Turkey located 100 km south of İstanbul in the Asia Minor peninsula. Bursa is home to Turkey’s historic and celebrated textile industry which is witnessing a rebirth to position itself as a regional and international leader. Located on the corner of Köklü Caddesi and Kırkpınar Caddesi the project site sits at the center of this manufacturing district and is the first in a planned series of interventions to redevelop the area.
The client is a textile distributor with his existing facility directly adjacent to the East of the project site. From its inception the Argül Weave was planned as a mixed-use development to attract international textile businesses to refocus and rebrand the district as a leading manufacturing textile hub. The Weave is 4,500 m2 distributed over three stories with retail on the ground floor, offices on levels two and three and capped off with a rooftop restaurant.
To satisfy the clients vision the design considered the rich tradition of Turkish textiles and their making through the interweaving of individual threads by giant looms. This motif offered a means to integrate the disparate parts of the project into a singular and coherent whole while making a clear statement as to the importance of this district. The material palette was kept to a minimum to emphasize the continuity and plasticity of the design. Patara Marble quarried from Burdur, Turkey and fabricated in Afyon forms the sinuous banding of the façade. Dark red marble from the Turkish Aegean region forms the buildings plinth and reddish brown Iroko wood from West Africa clads the inner areas of the weave. As one walks along the façade its undulations create a changing rhythmical pattern that are enhanced by the continuous play of light and shadow evolving throughout the day.
On the interior the Iroko wood of the façade projects in on the ground floor to form fully glazed entry vestibule vitrines creating a warm transition between exterior and interior. Levels two and three are animated by the alternating in and out and up and down of the façade banding that creates a unique and asymmetric view for every window opening. The vertical strands of the façade terminate at the rooftop forming crenellations from between which is a serial framing of the surrounding district and the distant Uludağ Mountains that anchor the city.
The designs execution relied on a unique and collaborative process that included a diverse group of team members situated in different regions and continents. Digital technologies were tailored to adapt to local practices for fabrication and construction. Master digital models were used to fine tune and control all geometries and construction assemblies and also used as a means to evaluate costs. Often time’s constraints from the fabricators were fed back into the model to further tune the geometries and design as required. As in the design the overall process can be conceived as an interwoven collaboration of actors located in distinct geographies. Research, design and execution fed each other in parallel progressions throughout the project that led to the realization of the Argül Weave…
Selin Biçer / Architect