Sealed by the sultan
In Istanbul the two spectacular towers for Ziraat Bank have grown high into the sky. While their shape is oriented on traditional calligraphy, the interior displays state-of-the-art technical features.
Elegantly curved lines. A few vertical markings. Rounded loops. Sweeping contours. They have an artistic look to them, these tughras. And no two are alike. There is an individual meaning behind every single little quill stroke: each of these ancient pieces of calligraphy contains the name and origin of a sultan. In the Ottoman Empire they were the equivalent of what developed into signets in western cultures: a ruler’s official signature.
Based on script
It is this form of valuable signature that developed back in the 11th century which now serves as the basis for a spectacular construction in the modern-day world: the new headquarters of Ziraat Bank in Istanbul. The architects at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) presented a design for the financial institution with two towers that borrow from this ancient monogram. Capturing Istanbul’s cultural heritage and the city’s historic architecture in a contemporary context is the official aim behind the design.
And this visual logic is actually recognizable, even for non-professionals: both buildings are conceived as separate structures. It is obvious that they represent the vertical lines found in a tughra. The towers grow out of an eight-storey atrium that unites the two buildings, with the gently curving shape of this podium serving as a distinct reference to the ancient calligraphy.
Ziraat Bank as new centrepiece
Even before it is opened to the public, it is clear that the two towers of Ziraat Bank will form the core of the Istanbul International Financial Centre (IIFF). This was the requirement that the architects were instructed to meet. Project manager Mustafa Chehabeddine at Kohn Pedersen Fox shares his pleasure in the design: “Ziraat Bank is an exemplar of contemporary design that is respectful to its context and the rich history of the country. We believe it will become a fitting centrepiece for the new Istanbul International Financial Centre.”
At the same time, he hurries to emphasize that the development phase did not focus exclusively on the look of the 320-metre towers. The building had to be impressive on the inside as well as the outside. In other words, special attention was paid to the environment in which people will work in future. The official explanation reads: “The office towers, which rise to 40 and 46 storeys, have been designed to support employee wellbeing.” Prayer rooms, naturally ventilated areas and planted balconies for relaxing breaks will be among the amenities on offer.
Variable room height relieves monotony
Double-height atria have been integrated between the individual storeys. The aim is to create varied working environments that promote social interaction across floors. Bridges connecting the two towers of the new Ziraat Bank headquarters are designed with a similar aim. “These create visual and physical links,” the architects say.
They also worked to prevent any of the workstations throughout the 350,000 m² offices from being affected by glare. Computer screens and sunlight definitely do not mix. Using louvres of various sizes throughout the entire facade, this effect has been avoided, and overheating due to the sun’s rays has also been prevented. According to the developers, further technical innovations with spectacular details are planned.
And so it is quite clear: the architects who designed these curved towers want to do the same as Ziraat Bank: to leave their mark on the city of Istanbul. Or more precisely – their tughra.
Text: Johannes Stühlinger
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Images: Tom Spall
that might interest you
Good news for local fauna: The dedication of not-for-profit organization CABI to combatting climate change through innovative agricultural solutions is reflected in the architecture of its new headquarters in England.
Alan Hofmann is a building engineer and timber constructor from Austria. His company Woodplan occupies a digital niche for building projects around the world. In this interview he describes his interpretation of intelligent offices, and how an office can be smart in an old Austrian building.
In everyday office life, automation is especially key to success. Lighting, sound, shading, heating, cooling, ventilation and access systems can be operated centrally with intelligent controls by Loxone.
The new co-working space Hammerbrooklyn in Hamburg is designed to be a place of inspiration and creativity. Besides its passion and dedication, this curated community thrives on a desire for innovation and thirst for the future.
Cologne is home to one of Germany’s most digitalized office buildings, known as The Ship. Inspired by its success as a model of contemporary working, a second project is being added just next door: the Vorum.
Heralding a bright future in an innovative, exciting location, this robotics centre in Denmark designed by 3XN is expected to become the perfect place to work. It is a Cobot Hub for the employees at two companies. And also for the robots developed there.
Big tech can actually be avoided. The small Swiss company Infomaniak is taking on digital office tech giants like Zoom and Microsoft. Without any charges or advertising, it is offering videoconferencing that can also be used by inexperienced users.
Inspired by traditional survival strategies of experienced miners, the architects at 3XN/GXN have “bred” a stylish canary that takes care of our health in the workplace.
As he was constantly on the move, technology entrepreneur Jeff Kleck was looking for a clever solution for a live-work space. His brilliant idea? To convert an old Airstream into what is probably the world’s best mobile smart office, which he calls “Kugelschiff”.
Automated machine communication is enabling new applications. In predictive maintenance, smart lifts indicate whether they are working or need attention.
You’ve seen smart homes, now it’s time for smart buildings. Cube Berlin, an office complex that controls itself via artificial intelligence, opened in early 2020.
Andreas Thamm is a “smart office” expert. As Chairman of the Management Board at UBM Development Germany, he is steering the company towards an intelligent future. It is an issue that is particularly relevant in times of COVID-19.
In China, Zaha Hadid Architects are building two 400-metre giant structures that make sensational use of digital possibilities. With its smart solutions, Tower C is efficient and, above all, environmentally friendly.
Architecture studio Foster + Partners have designed an extraordinary office tower for the heart of Buenos Aires. As a sustainable and flexible building, Avenida Cordoba 120 is set to provide more than just an optimum working environment. Its public space is intended to enhance the entire district.
The office complex ICÔNE has been created by the architects at Foster + Partners as an elegant answer to current working trends. This new flex office building is currently under construction in Luxembourg’s Belval Quarter, where urban renewal is set to create the city’s new “best address”.
The new showpiece unveiled by Swatch is not a watch, but office architecture at its finest. To create the reptilian curves of the new Swatch headquarters in Biel, star architect Shigeru Ban has built one of the world’s largest timber-framed constructions.
Internet giant Google wants to do more than provide the right answers every time on the digital front. With the construction of the new headquarters in Silicon Valley, it wants to supply the solution to every workplace problem. Specifically, it aims to revolutionize working environments completely!