Pol Center
Façade and Open Areas Redesign

Office  Tornavida Design Team  Jonathan Phillips · Uğur Kayserilioğlu · Gökhan Candangil · Ekin Damdere Type  Exterior Renovation Role  Concept · Schematic Design Client  Ekonerji · Pol Center Budget  1 million Size  500 m² Location  Levent, Istanbul Year  2014

The first objective of this redesign of the spaces around the perimeter of a two decades-old subterranean shopping mall is to establish a single, legible visual identity to vie with the more contemporary gallerias around it. The second is to change merely serviceable sidewalks into semi-public pocket parks that passersby can occupy and that will draw in potential customers.

Rather than re-clad the current walls, equally-spaced laminated wood slats are set perpendicular to it around the two open sides of the building, creating a variously articulated motif that makes the unity of the spaces and enterprises apparent. These slats are sometimes freestanding, sometimes integrated into glass storefronts, sometimes serve as balustrades, and sometimes accommodate rental advertising space. Various foils unfold along the façade, including an angular entry, a circular flower shop, and a concrete coffee stand.
The new main entrance (right) extends out into the sidewalk with doors set at 45-degree angles to the line of pedestrian travel. Outdoor seating for the neighboring restaurant, which currently sits on a glass-enclosed raised dais (left), is terraced and contiguous with the mall entrance.
Seating, a coffee stand, and irregular cellular grass paving set perpendicular to the direction of travel reinforce the sense that the sidewalk is a space to be occupied (right) rather than a mere means of getting from one place to another (left). Existing, freestanding advertising displays – the rent from which is a primary income source for the mall – are replaced by poster frames and lenticular billboards for pedestrians and passing vehicular traffic, respectively. These are integrated into the slat façades.
At the corner of the site, an existing flower shop (left) occupies a portable building sitting on the sidewalk. While still freestanding, the new flower shop (right) is visually integrated into the façade and its circular form complements the movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic around it.
A terrace above the entrance to the underground parking garage, which currently serves as a meager parking lot (left), is converted into convertible indoor-outdoor seating for additional restaurants (right), the kitchens of which occupy difficult-to-rent spaces in a back corner of the mall. A wall along the sidewalk is replaced with wide, sloping steps. While these steps establish a visual link and the physical approach from the street to these new establishments, the intent is that they also be used as public seating. A handicap access ramp, which serves a new rear entrance to the mall, runs diagonally across the steps.
One organizational aspect of the proposal is that the shopping center negotiate with the management of the office towers to reopen elevators connecting them. To accommodate the additional traffic through the mall that this would entail, the current emergency escape door is reworked into a second, rear entrance (right) to the mall itself.
At the main and parking entrances, the name of the center – re-branded as simply POL – is "embossed" in the wooden slats (right) such that it can be read in shadow. The effect changes depending on the angle of the sun, as can be seen in the video below.
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