This housing scheme in Istanbul reinterprets the typology of the residential courtyard block
Turkish practice Emre Arolat Architects (EAA) first appeared in the AR with a project for an airport terminal at Dalaman, a holiday resort on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, which was a winner in the 2006 AR Awards for Emerging Architecture (AR December 2006). The jury was impressed by the confident handling of a large and challenging building type, and how the resulting architecture was imbued with spatial and material subtleties. A similar ethos is evident in this project for a residential block in Istanbul.
Here again a potentially anodyne building type is humanised through a considered response to site and climate, thoughtful articulation of constituent parts and expressive use of materials. Among the factors that shaped the design were the low-rise scale of the surroundings, the relationship between public and private domains, a requirement for inhabitable roof spaces and the need to minimise running and maintenance costs.
Disposed around a central garden landscaped with pools and planting, the scheme reinterprets the archetypal courtyard block − the quintessential human-scaled housing type − and the water-filled patio that traditionally provides relief in an oppressive climate. The four-storey blocks are articulated to create deep, shaded balconies that act as outdoor rooms and encourage cooling breezes to circulate through the flats. The two upper storeys are veiled in delicately perforated timber screens, a modern version of the classic mashrabiya, so the facades subtly shift and change as the inhabitants open and close the panels. Placed along a north-south axis, the housing blocks wrap around the tapering, split level courtyard, with communal social facilities contained below ground. To optimise natural light, flats are double banked around a central spinal corridor.
Breaking up the rhythm of the blocks, the mid-point of each is loosened and detached to create a series of interstitial voids filled with gardens. Chosen to age and weather gracefully, the material palette of stone, timber and concrete is robust yet dignified. Domestically intimate, yet with a larger civic presence, the project shows how the traditional courtyard block can be reinterpreted for the modern age.