I want to share my analysis for a METU building in many aspects.
Brief story of the building
The building has been commissioned by METU Development Department. The clients’ aim was to develop and improve the conditions of the campus of METU. They created new resources and put support behind, beside the purpose to raise education level, keep METU on the top of the list of most respected institutions continuously. The annex building for English Language Preparatory School of METU has been built in order to provide a new educational area for both University and the students.
The building has been produced in 2007 by Boran Ekinci from Boran Ekinci Architectural Office Melis Çankara, Nilay Arslan, Gülnur Arısalan.
Boran Ekinci was graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of METU in 1987. From 1989 to 1996 he continued his architectural projects at Ankara and Istanbul. He is now working on Boran Ekinci Limited Company at Istanbul. His projects have been published in both domestic and abroad. He is awarded and nominated with those projects.
METU’s Invited Competitions are help to see produced projects by creative architects for new planned METU buildings. Different ideas from various architects for same project are open up clients’ horizon but the jury remain same so the integrity of campus could stay same. Boran Ekinci Architectural Office won that competition for the annex building for English Language Preparatory School thanks to their appropriate projects and ideas.
Getting rid of all ornament things and designing everything as they are, according to their function, their own structural rationality is main design principle for METU Buildings. The context is about answering the needs. As Le Corbusier said: The way to achieve beauty is related with both proportional geometry, geometrical forms and the relation between form and function. In the same way, design parts are following rationality of function on the annex building for English Language Preparatory School. It produced to be a proper educational area for university students.
Design qualities of the building
Behruz Çinici who is designer of METU campus used brut concrete which emphasize the simplicity, rationality and the function more than ornament on his METU constructs characteristically. The masses which are shaped simple and properly functional are what is seen at the first glance on the annex building for English Language Preparatory School. Those are all the basics of modernism.
The annex building for English Language Preparatory School keeps the consistency of the architectural language of METU campus.
“The project was handled using “wall architecture”–i.e. it is designed in such a way that the walls both enclose façades and bear loads. A steel structure has been inserted in between the two reinforced concrete walls. The steel and reinforced concrete structures statically support each other and form the structural system. The steel frame floors of the building terminate without connecting to the exterior wall, thus creating a gap between the floor mass and the exterior wall surrounding the building. Besides enabling the placement of heat insulation without creating thermal bridges, this gap can also be used for electrical and mechanical shafts.”
Compositionally horizontal and vertical positioning play a big role.
There is horizontal layout. The separating lines on concrete are all horizontal. On the other hand, the division of faces is vertical while narrow windows are also vertical from one side (left image above), but from another side the both division of faces and the positioning of windows are horizontal (right image above).
“Reflecting the formal concept as well as the construction idea, this “wall architecture” causes the building to be perceived in terms of planes rather than masses.”
Character is not only about visual things and certain forms, it is also about basic approach to the organization. So, there are used design elements on the annex building for English Language Preparatory School according to the indigenous character of environment of the building and campus.
It can be said that the concrete is like local, traditional material to use for all METU campus. Hence, wood, brick, glass and reinforced concrete are the ones which lead the way.
On the annex building for English Language Preparatory School, wood, glass, steel and raw concrete are observed ones.
Concrete surface used as texture as itself on the building with its all simplicity.
Wood: Another important material used in the building. The building has wooden elements which framing the windows.
The wood and concrete have nested relation with intersection and thus the separated building can be perceived as a whole.
“Sensitively conserving the green and paved landscape within and around the former buildings, the new building is positioned almost exactly on the footprint of the previous one. The walls that make up the building and continue into the outdoor spaces have been perforated with openings to create a light-weight element that provides a visual connection between untouched and regulated nature.”
Nature can be seen from inside the buildings.
The walls have vertical and horizontal holes on them. The holes are in rectangular shapes. They are big enough to see a big sight from other side so, despite the fact that the walls are big solids with big masses they can create transparency with that holes as the glasses on the building create. Large glass surfaces represents the international style of modernism. They positioned vertical & horizontal and they occupy a big place. The both holes and big windows let the building gains a connection between nature and itself. It is made to be an open building to nature.
Also, large windows help to use the daylight efficiently. Natural light is masterfully used in some places.
“Minimalist number of materials i.e. reinforced concrete, glass, brick and buildings blocks. Exposed reinforced concrete as a finishing material is advantageous. Plaster, which cracks in the cold climate, is eliminated. Low maintenance is a real advance in a school which is not a well-financed institution. However, reinforced concrete walls were without insulation. This makes the building very poor in terms of energy conservation.”
There is pattern of repeating windows on the building. Boran Ekinci used repetitive elements on the facades to create strong rhythm.
“The buildings follow a simple scheme that consists of classrooms located on two sides of a hallway. The longitudinal, two-story rectangular blocks terminate at open staircase galleries at both ends. The canteen that unites the two classroom blocks with a transparent mass is a focal point that connects the interior spaces as well as the inner and outer courtyards. With the exposed reinforced concrete of its earliest buildings, the METU Campus is like an exhibition of various building materials, displaying their raw and in-use states. Constructed approximately a half century after the establishment of the campus, the Preparatory School buildings take an innovative approach with various uses of exposed reinforced concrete installed in the 2000’s, the search for a new means of “creating”, the use of raw and economical materials and the ease of maintenance and renovation in high-use spaces like classrooms.”
Comparison of this building with some other buildings of the METU campus
“Brutalism was the architectural style which spread all over the world after the Second World War. It reached the culminating point in the 1960s and fade away in the late 1970s. Many school, university and collage building were often designed with a brutalist approach in those years. This aesthetics was considered to be the most proper for such type of buildings, because it emphasized durability, power and dignity – attributes connected with knowledge and science.”
Similarly, the whole METU has been started to design with the theory of architecture in the 20th and of course brutalism.
The buildings in the campus of METU are not standing like monolithic things they are all a part of composition and they have connections between them with pedestrians. So, it shows the all campus planned in an organized composition.
While METU buildings standing in a harmony, they are also in a hierarchy with the level differences and visual relations.
The annex building of English Language Preparatory School of METU designed by considering all criteria of already standing buildings, based on them. Hence, reinforced concrete and wood are to be the most used materials is normal.
It can be said that the concrete is like local, traditional material to use for all METU campus. Here is some photos which show the use of concrete in brutalist aesthetics. (Left photo is from Faculty of Architecture of METU)
“Interestingly buildings which utilize way building materials such as exposed concrete and brick are usually referred as METU style, at least in Ankara if not all around Turkey. The university campus has a wide acclaim the architectural agenda in Turkey.”
“Composition of square prisms to form a low rise, horizontal faculty, adapting to differences in the topography is “sensitive” and nature friendly.”
At the same time, METU Development Department generally designs schools not high-rise but low-rise because they want students to be on nature, between the trees without spending time on going down the stairs on breaks. That is also related with why METU buildings have wide natural areas around them. It is a common design principle for all METU buildings.
They have all got opening areas to nature. (Left-up: School of Foreign Languages. Left-down: Faculty of Architecture of METU.)
“The building designed by Turkish architects Altuğ and Behruz Çinici is an excellent example of brutalist style, which spread all over the world in the 1960s. Additionally, brutalist aesthetics was considered to be the most proper for university buildings in those years. METU Department of Architecture was the first building in Turkey presenting such character. In its architectural form, being still almost in pristine state, there are visible many solutions typical of brutalism, such as: strong articulation of solids composed in an orthogonal geometry; the use of raw buildings materials – particularly exposed concrete with the imprint of the wooden formwork; repetitive elements creating rhythms on facades; concrete sun-breakers, gargoyles and cornices. Altuğ and Behruz Çinici were also inspired by local architecture and that’s why the building is brutalist but also “traditional”. 2011 was the 50th anniversary of the competition for the Department of Architecture Building. Furthermore the architect, the patron (rector) and the landscape designer of the campus all passed away that year. Hence, this paper has a historical significance.”
As the idea for METU so far, form follows function idea is still valid. Main architect and designer of METU: Behruz Çinici emphasizes that the function is more than ornament for modern architecture. Function for Boran Ekinci’s building is education, as other METU buildings, that one is not high-rise because as mentioned above, the low-rise buildings are much more in a relationship with nature.
Here is an example of use of both wood and raw concrete together from different buildings in METU below.
(Left photo is from the inside of Faculty of Architecture of METU.)
Boran Ekinci is an architect who use grass, wood, steel and brut concrete frequently. He uses the steel on this project with its own value. There can be other elements which accompany the steel such as reinforced concrete on his buildings generally. He states that the combination of steel and reinforced concrete creates characteristic and original making.
Comparison of this building with some other buildings designed by the same architect
Şişecam AR-GE Building on the right side by Boran Ekinci Architectural Office & Erbuğ Architectural Office. It is designed on the same year with the annex building for English Language Preparatory School given as project. This building has a central courtyard with intertwined with nature and the roof is designed in green color in order to accommodate to nature. As the annex building for English Language Preparatory School of METU, AR-GE is in relation with nature.
METU AR-GE Building 2004 by Boran Ekinci Architectural Office and it is commissioned by METU Development Foundation.
Visually, the building’s form can associate with the annex building for English Language Preparatory School of METU in terms of its horizontal positioning and cubiform. In terms of its simple architecture, horizontal positioning of building, vertical positioning of windows and black separator elements are show similarity with the annex building for English Language Preparatory School.
There are some important design criteria common for both the annex building for English Language Preparatory School and METU AR-GE Building in terms of ease of construction, low cost, integrity of interior and exterior spaces, daylight condition.
There is a photograph of ‘Göl Evi’ which made in 2004 by Boran Ekinci Architectural Office on the right. It is again in cubiform and intertwined with nature as other buildings of Boran Ekinci. Horizontal, vertical elements are dominant details for ‘Göl Evi’. Also, transparency condition with wood siding can be associated with the annex building for English Language Preparatory School.
The annex building for English Language Preparatory School of METU photos are taken by me.