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KAGITHANE Complex by Emre Arolat Architects in Istanbul

Spearheading the evolution of the Kagithane district of Istanbul as a commercial centre, this office park has wider urban and social ambitions

The pressure on central Istanbul’s existing commercial core has led to the development of new commercial districts along the city’s north-south Levent-Maslak axis. To the west of this spine is the neighbourhood of Kagithane, a notable centre of Ottoman Modernism. Proposing an alternative to the often inflexible and soulless generic model of the office tower, Emre Arolat’s new Kagithane Office Park for Tekfen Real Estate provides 30,000sqm of offices and workspaces arranged in a fragmented courtyard layout.


Conceived as a series of differently scaled blocks structured around planted courtyards, the Kagithane Office Park reconceptualises the generic office building as humanely scaled and connecting with the wider urban realm

Inspired by the urban grain and scale of Kagithane, the project aims to spearhead the area’s transformation and provide a responsive model for future commercial development. Begun in 2009, the project has evolved incrementally and has reached its final phase.
The development lies on the site of a former nail factory and incorporates some existing structures. The site was analysed in depth with the aim of drilling down into the social, physical and topographical strata that make up the urban grain and shape patterns of use.


Cross section through courtyard and office block

A comprehensive set of digital models helped the architects to develop ideas about scale, form and the experiential quality of
the architecture. A network of courtyards cultivates a sense of human scale and encourages informal interaction, while also meshing with the existing street patterns. Pools and planting soften the ground plane and temper the effects of the Turkish climate. Individual buildings are simple, sober exercises in rendered concrete capped with shallow pitched roofs. They range in height but the tallest is no more than seven storeys.

Drawing on the rhythms of the existing streetscape, an irregular patchwork of glazing animates and enlivens the facades. Each block provides around 400sqm per floor and tenants can colonise and subdivide the spaces as they choose. The now familiar requirement for energy efficiency underscores the architecture and the scheme has been rated LEED Silver. The project demonstrates how new office buildings can be sensitively integrated into a historic neighbourhood without compromising its essential character.


Facade patterns are abstracted from the surrounding urban milieu

Fact File

Kagithane Office Park
Emre Arolat Architects

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