On the Order of Objects

Zhanina Boyadzhieva (website), Beth Eckels
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Design Studio
Faculty:  Hashim Sarkis (website), Erkin Özay (website)


The site for the studio is located in the heart of the old peninsula of Istanbul. It presents a juxtaposition of two urban types – monuments and surrounding urban fabric – and asks for a careful mediation between the two. Inspired by features of the bazaar and the hypostyle, the project balances between the idea of individual units and a collective composition to produce ambiguity of readings. The goal is to invoke an equilibrium between figure-ground and solid-void relationships.

Taking the language of a hypostyle, the project is based on a geometrical system of repeating singular units (“mushrooms”). Each mushroom consists of a structural column and an inhabited cap, holding a specific program. All mushrooms are self-similar and positioned in a distorted grid to form a collective composition that is continuous and coherent. Just as the bazaar, the overall composition is affected by external conditions such as orientation of streets and monuments. The system of mushrooms responds to the externalities and adapts by continuously reorienting itself. At the same time similar to the cisterns, the system readjusts to the internal parameters of the object itself. The repeating mushrooms are flexible in height and size depending on their specific programmatic needs, producing the effect of a staggered order. Columns can become circulation cores and inhabited caps can merge to form large spaces for lecture halls and auditoriums. There is a hierarchy of the spacing in between the elements to further enrich the experience. As a result, the project offers a constant mediation between exterior and interior factors that influence both the overall framework of the system and the individual components. The design can be read as an aggregate which is simultaneously additive and subtractive and absorbs qualities of both the monuments and the urban fabric.

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