The Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center transformed the abandoned skeleton of an unfinished hotel project in Istanbul to create one of the most significant new additions to Turkey’s contemporary architectural landscape.
The structure serves as corporate headquarters of Vakko, Turkey’s preeminent fashion house, including offices, showrooms, conference rooms and auditorium spaces. The headquarters for Power Media, Turkey’s best-known music and television network, includes television studios, radio production facilities and screening rooms. The unfinished Istanbul hotel was not the only repurposed key element of the project. REX’s adaptive-reuse expertise enabled it to modify plans from another canceled project in the United States, allowing construction to begin only four days after REX received the commission.
When the CEO of Vakko and Power Media approached REX to design and construct a corporate headquarters within one year using the abandoned skeleton of an unfinished hotel, the requested design and construction timetable would normally have been unthinkable. Fortuitously, the unfinished hotel had the same plan dimension, floor-to-floor height and servicing concept as REX’s design for the California Institute of Technology’s Annenberg Center, which had recently been canceled. By adapting construction documents produced for the Annenberg Center to the abandoned concrete hotel skeleton, REX was able to direct the start of construction just four days after Vakko and Power Media first approached the firm.
REX divided the project into two structurally independent components. The “U-shaped” concrete skeleton—completed by a fourth side—is dubbed the Ring, and contains conventional, flexible office space. At the Ring’s center, a new six-floor steel tower—named the Showcase—contains unique programs, including an auditorium, showrooms, meeting rooms and executive offices, as well as all vertical circulation and restrooms.
By separating the structure into these two independent components, a time-consuming forensic analysis of the existing concrete skeleton was rendered unnecessary while the structural design of the Showcase was simplified. The resultant savings in time allowed construction to start immediately on the existing skeleton while simultaneously providing an eight-week period to design the rest of the building.
Given only two weeks after initiating design to submit the Showcase’s steel order, REX and its engineers designed a set of steel boxes that could be assembled in myriad configurations. This strategy allowed the steel shapes and quantities to be ordered from the steel mill before the final Showcase design was complete. Ultimately, space use requirements, code restrictions, and a circulation path winding from bottom to top of the tower dictated the final stacking of the boxes.
A beautiful and refined architectural image was critical to maintaining Vakko/Power’s public profile; yet, the clumsy structure of the abandoned hotel was impossible to hide given the project’s compressed schedule. REX embraced this constraint by designing an exceptionally transparent and thin glass façade for the Ring. By slumping a structural “X” into each pane to increase the glass’s strength, the glass’s thickness was reduced and the need for perimeter mullions was eliminated. The resulting ethereal glass “Saran Wrap” subtly reveals the Ring’s pre-existing concrete skeleton and suggests the Showcase behind. The Showcase, meanwhile, is clad in mirror-glass, cloaking the steel boxes with a mirage-like exterior, and enlivening the building’s interior to kaleidoscopic effect.
By innovatively reusing an existing structure, REX reconciled the normally competing requirements for speed and design excellence in the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center. The result is a unique example of adaptive reuse, and a new architectural landmark for Turkey.
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Program: Headquarters for a Turkish fashion house—including offices, showrooms, conference rooms, auditorium, museum, and dining hall—as well as the television studios, radio production facilities, and screening rooms of its media sister-company
Area: 5,400 m² (58,000 sf) and 3,700 m² (40,000 sf)
Architects: REX – www.rex-ny.com
Clients: Vakko and Power Media