Tornavida Design Office
Collaborative Work Space



Office  Tornavida Design Type  Renovation Role  Design · Construction oversight Size  12 m² Location  Beyoğlu, Istanbul Year  2012


This rental office for the atelier of an architectural designer is located in an Ottoman era office block in the historic district of Pera. Minimal storage for the largely paperless office is located in a low, wall-to-wall sideboard suspended along one wall. The leading edge of this wooden counter is left unhewn. All other furniture in the space is moveable. Two narrow standing desks of square tubular steel and wood can be easily rearranged end-to-end or across from one another for individual or collaborative work, respectively. During off-hour cocktails, these serve as bar tables (and the Wilkhahn Stitz leaning stools as bar stools). Indeed, the intimacy and informality that this taproom furniture evokes is a deliberate choice of work culture.
The Tünel Geçidi office block was built in 1876 in tandem with a historic underground funicular from which it gets its name. The building was variously used as a commercial building and then as a tenement until the 1970s when the interior was reallocated as individual, privately-owned offices. At the time, acoustic ceilings were installed throughout at a level of 2.50 meters and the central heating system was dismantled.

Removing the drop ceiling from this office added eleven cubic meters to the space and revealed the shallow iron and masonry vaults that support the floor above. A picture rail was installed at the level of the former drop ceiling to give the now 3.60 meter walls a human proportion and to support a continuous band of LED lighting. As a line of continuity with the public access hall – where the acoustic ceiling remains – the picture rail is a reminder of the checkered architectural past of the interior space, as is the arrangement of the wooden window mullions that remain from the 1970s renovation.

The color scheme relates to the graphic identity of the firm with three walls painted 50 percent neutral gray up to the picture rail. Both as a relief and because it receives only reflected natural light, the wall containing the window is a lighter shade. The area above the picture rail on all four walls is a third, even lighter gray that reads as white except where it meets and contrasts with the rail itself, which is actually white. The walls are intended as a neutral backdrop for the objects and people that both literally and figuratively add color to the space – the books on the sideboard, a coffee mug, a patron's clothes.

As a foil, the clerestory panel above the door is in the warm yellow of the office logo and the sideboard is a deep red. The logotype itself is in brushed metal above the sideboard, while a custom electrolier of pipe fittings and exposed bulbs is hung at the level of the picture rail.

The thick masonry walls of the structure keep the temperature relatively stable year-round during the daytime, and a standing fan and a ceramic heater under the desk suffice on particularly hot and cold days, respectively.
The pedestrian arcade in the 1960s. The Kohen bookstore (est. 1918) remains at this location. The office window faces the arcade on the third floor left. Incongruously, the wide string course between the second and third floors now supports several air conditioning units.
The pedestrian arcade from above and the front façade (in three stages of restoration).
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