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ARCHITECTS • LFA DIGITAL 2020  

GONCA PASOLAR
EAA-EMRE AROLAT • ISTANBUL

It was the early years of  Zorlu Center Mixed-Use Complex at the time we visited with Ivan Jones and experienced the foyer of Performing Arts Center. This complex of Residences, Retail, Raffles Hotel, Offices and Zorlu Performing Arts Center, more than 800.000 sqm in total was the output of seven years of comprehensive hard work with a large team of distinguished experts including Buro Happold, Anne Minors Performance Consultants and Sound Space Design from London. 

The complex is located at the junction of the Bosphorus Bridge European connection and the Buyukdere axis that connects the city center with the business district Maslak. With its easy access from important centers of Istanbul, it is also one of the few sites that face south, with the old city view making it a ‘subject of desire’ and was owned by the Zorlu Property through a tender, being curiously watched by the public. The project deals with contradictions such as grandeur and modesty, public and private, institutional and domestic, social and distinguished, together with structural and topographical considerations. 

The ground is reconstructed by a topographical interpretation, with a kind of shell that is transformed into an in-between layer between the public and private functions combined in the complex, creating the largest green roof in Europe at the time it was completed. The Piazza surrounded by this shell and the retail units below creates an alternative public space. One of the prominent goals of the project was to enhance public life in a completely private land by the help of free porosity and outer space articulations. The highly professional Performing Arts Center with its large musical theatre of 2300 seats and the drama space of 750 has been one and only venue having this level of technical infrastructure since its opening and a generator of art for the city of Istanbul, even the country.  

EAA - Emre Arolat Architecture continues its practice all around the world with studios in New York, Istanbul and London. We work closely with acclaimed consultants trying to establish a timely integrated design that will help to create buildings and environments which engage better with the user and their surroundings. The design is carried out through a collective way of thinking and working that focuses on precision. While conveying an image of a corporate office, EAA tends to act like a small studio in a way that gives each project more than sufficient amount of consideration to create architectural values. For us, each project is a different and unique situation in its own context which is to tell its story. Ever since 2004 -when Emre Arolat and I established EAA- many articles have been written about our work from all around the world. However, the introduction by Aaron Betsky in our recent book Scent of the Trace by ORO Editions was the most heartily interpretation of EAA works. He stated that EAA is “able to find just enough of a sense of coherence, fit just enough into tradition, commercial norms, and building norms, to be able to eke out something that keeps going, slides away, slips into a small place of gathering, layers itself into either the urban or the natural landscape, and make a place where you want to sit to watch the view, other people, or the presence of divinity." I guess the quotation summarizes it all. 

It is worthy to put emphasis on the way how EAA constantly seeks to find new ways of sculpting light and materials, minimize the environmental impact and consolidate the design from the start through producing details that represent the final building. Each EAA project is a unique work combining intellectual and artistic sensitivity tempered by the tradition and culture from which they spring. This is how EAA continues to carve its path in the industry as a studio.

The noteworthy works of the studio were compiled in the monograph “Context & Plurality” edited by Philip Jodidio and Suha Ozkan and published by Rizzoli New York in 2013, which is now being followed by “Global and Local” by Rizzoli Electa soon to be on the shelves in 2020. EAA works have also been displayed in several important institutions as Design Museum and Royal Academy of Arts in London, at RIBA and at as well as being presented in the International Architecture Biennale in Venice both at 2012 and 2016. 

The co-founder and lead designer of the practice, Emre Arolat has been internationally sought after lecturer at prestigious universities. In Fall 2017 Semester, we together taught at the Advanced Studio at Yale School of Architecture as Norman R. Foster Visiting Professors.

https://emrearolat.com/