Tatavla House Micro-Apartments
Urban Lofts

Office  Tornavida Design Type  Gut Renovation Role  Concept · Design · Limited coordination and construction documentation Client  Hasan Şahan Budget  400.000 ₺ Size  360 m² Location  Kurtuluş, Istanbul Year  2013

The challenge outlined in the brief was to fit two, functional, medium-stay flats on each floor of an existing 60 m² Armenian apartment building circa 1950s – without resorting to gimmicks. The ample floor-to-floor height allowed for split-level apartments, and beds were stowed away under the bathrooms to transform the main spaces from bedrooms into functional and presentable living areas.

After an analysis of the existing masonry structure, it was determined that a new steel frame would be needed within the existing walls, which in turn defined the industrial loft aesthetic and subsequent material choices.
To maintain the integrity of the load bearing brick walls, the fenestration of the existing building was left unchanged.
Typical floor with the new steel structure.
The entrances to each apartment are glass partitions that allow the full floor to be perceived as a single, continuous space in which the colored bathrooms are merely freestanding objects. This configuration eschews the social isolation that occurs when traditional ideas of privacy are made physically manifest. It provides inhabitants ample opportunities for social interaction, but also the ability to modulate the privacy and intimacy of their personal spaces (with blinds, curtains, etc.).
Stair landings and kitchenettes are two steps above the level of the living rooms. In the rear, standard double beds partially retract under the elevated bathrooms that flank the staircase.
View into the rear unit from the stairwell.
Typical front unit plan. The bed is shown in the retracted position.
Typical front unit. The layered planes created by the steel frame, the wall of the bath, the level change, and the glass partitions give the rooms the illusion of depth. The steel, brickwork, and concrete floor are left exposed, again to give the perimeter of the rooms the impression of depth.
"Transforming" furniture in opened and closed states.
To maximize the limited space, "transforming" items of built-in furniture were planned, including a kitchen countertop extension, a flip-top cover over the induction domino stovetop, and a desk that pivots over the steps. Ordinary sofa beds were not deemed sufficiently durable, so double beds with standard mattresses were arranged to roll under the raised bathroom such that the protruding part could be used as a daybed.
The façade before and after the renovation. The subtler details of the original exterior plasterwork were carefully documented, but in the end, they were not realized on the refurbished façade.
Rigid insulation was applied to the exterior of the building, and domestic hot water – as well as an in-floor cooling and heating system – are supplied by two heat pumps installed on the roof. The top floor apartments feature independent sleeping lofts and access to an irrigated, green roof.
Plaster was removed from selected walls revealing the structural brick as well as windows on the upper floors that had been closed by the construction of an adjacent building. Such discovered niches were then integrated into the interior design.
During construction, the new steel frame had to be erected without undermining the existing, load-bearing masonry structure. Holes were opened in the floor slabs and niches were excavated in some walls on the lower floors to allow the columns to be dropped in from the roof in sections (by crane). The exterior masonry walls were reinforced and tied to the new structure with continuous steel plates bolted together through the walls at each level. Once the structural load was shifted from the masonry to the steel frame, the old interior walls, concrete floor plates, and stairs were removed and replaced. An expansion joint around the perimeter of the new floor slabs allows the masonry walls to move independently.

The steel structure also made possible the addition of an additional floor that was allowed by the zoning code but which would otherwise have been precluded by the limitations of the existing masonry structure.
LED lighting for the stairwell is integrated into tubular steel sections supporting the steps of the floor above.
The asymmetric placement of the original stair could not accommodate the efficient division of the floors into two units and was removed. A new, steel stair with marble treads was suspended from the structural frame. Original, traditional çini cement floor tiles were carefully removed from various locations in the existing building and reused on the stair landings as a foil to the polished concrete floors in the units.
While the stair construction was later simplified to accommodate the capacity of the steel contractor, the general aesthetic was maintained.
The client later decided on eclectic, retro-themed decor and casework for the furnished apartments.
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