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BLOG Famous Turkish Architects

15 January 2016 / Design

We'll explore some of Turkey's most famous architects, best known for their iconic works and lasting influence.

Turkey’s identity is strongly linked to its architecture. Tourists are spellbound by the grand Blue Mosque with its beautiful domes that took seven years to build, the Ottoman architecture throughout the Sultanahmed-Old City and the stunning water-front mansions along the Bosphorus.

Great Architect Sinan

The country’s most famous architect, otherwise known as the ‘Great Architect Sinan’ is the most significant name in Ottoman Turkish architecture. Mimar Sinan lived between 1490 and 1588 and during this time, his prolific 50-year career saw him design more than 250 of Turkish most famous structures including mosques, palaces, harems, chapels, tombs and schools.

Among his most renowned pieces of work include the Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul. His design creates a spectacular illusion showing the interior surfaces bathed in light and the central dome appearing almost weightless.

Today, Sinan still has a huge impact on the Turkish landscape but there are many other talented architects who are contributing to the country’s design ethos.

Contemporary architects

Billed as the ‘sexiest hotel’ the recently opened Adam and Eve hotel in Belek, Antalya was designed by Turkish national Eren Talu. The architect opted for a minimalistic palette but created the unique design with a range of coloured lights, floor to ceiling mirrors and hidden sound systems. Guests first get a glimpse of the stylish design on entering the dazzling atrium featuring a large bar with white sitting beds and a ceiling with thousands of hand-laid glass mosaic pieces. Other spaces feature a more laid back and simple design. The 500 plus guest rooms are located in a block perpendicular to the coastline. There are private villas, townhouses and studios in separate buildings and to provide a room with a view, along the beach Talu planted an orchard of apple trees. Overall, it is Talu’s flair for drama and detailing that make his creations stand out buildings in Turkey.

Home and abroad

Turkish architects are making a name for themselves in many of the major cities worldwide. Global Architectural Development (GAD) is an award winning company, based in Istanbul and New York, that specializes in architectural practice, research and concept design since 1985. Owned by Turkish Gokhan Avcioglu, GAD’s belief is that contemporary architecture is influenced by software, consumer habits and behaviors. This means that they approach each new project from a holistic perspective and create innovative approach to new design.

GAD has designed a wide range of assignments from small scale private home projects through to an urban masterplan. The architects are behind many highly recognised public facilities, such as cultural centers as well as apartment buildings, offices and hotels. The company’s work can be seen in Istanbul, Bodrum, New Jersey, New York City, Washington, Virginia and Connecticut.

Future projects

Salon Architects, an Istanbul based architecture studio has recently unveiled the designs for its Beylikdüzü Life Valley Bridges and Routes Master Plan for Istanbul's Beylikdüzü district. The inspiration for the designs came from the idea of ‘Keeping the Valley Alive’ and the sustainable project will see the valley being divided into six zones, each of which has a focus point and useable facilities such as bicycle parks, sitting areas, and shaded areas, that will help define the valley’s identity.

The Life Valley Bridge will be ideal for walkers to appreciate the valley without disturbing the natural environment. The Watching Bridge will feature lights that extend from its bearing system up over its walkways, giving the impression that they are hanging midair. The projects are set for completion by the end of 2016.

International influencer 

Vedat Ali Dalokay who lived between 1927 and 1991 was a renowned architect as well as being a mayor of Ankara. His most famous project was the Faisal Mosque located in Pakistan. It is famous throughout the world and its iconic shape, resembling a Bedouin’s tent, is a symbol of Islamabad. Dalokay has created numerous award-winning projects in Turkey also and he remains one of the most prolific architects from his homeland.

Social design

Very much like the friendly nature of the people, the design of architecture in Turkey aims to contribute to the neighbourhood feeling. Istanbul and London-based AVCI Architects has designed a new multifuctional tower called “Balance Gunesli” in Istanbul that aims to contribute to the social environment.

Inside there are different types of offices as well as retail stores and residential units in the hope it becomes a new hub of the community. The main pedestrian street invites users to feel more connected to the landscape with welcoming public areas to encourage social interaction. Considering the social activity and liveliness throughout the day will also keep the area safer for residents and visitors alike.

The architects have also considered sustainability with the use of solar energy by making northern facades more opaque with stone coverings, and layering the southern facades by placing wooden brise-soleil in front of glass. The gardens on the upper floors of the southern facades provide both natural heating, ventilation and the continuity of the green also.

Sacred spaces

Combining high design inside mosques is an unusual niche but one that is getting a Turkish architect noticed. Emre Arolat is creating unexpected structures throughout Turkey and he is being praised for replacing austere design with a more modern alternative.

In an outlying suburb of Istanbul, Sancaklar Mosque is an unassuming semi-submerged structure of roughly-hewn brickwork and dry-stone walls. Rather than domes and minarets, and women praying in a separate room behind the men, Sancaklar Mosque blends seamlessly with the topography. Inside, the light is filtered through slits and fractures in the exterior walls rather than the more traditional direct light. The usual arrangement of a main prayer hall with a smaller female space beyond has been replaced by two identical prayer spaces side by side. 

Other work by Arolat includes the Dalaman airport, Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Arts a textile factory in Edirne and numerous high profile housing projects.

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