Urban Lung Cooperative
Urban Renewal Infill Typology



Office  Tornavida Design Type  New Construction · Infill Role  Concept · Design Size  900 m² Location  Şişli, Istanbul Year  2020

This multi-unit home for an extended family (an elderly woman and three of her children, one of whom has a family of her own) was prompted by the need for the matriarch to downsize to a more manageable, accessible home. To accommodate both her natural fondness for the village life of her youth as well as the convenience and accessibility of her urban adult life, the building is designed as a natural preserve in the city. A third of the floor area is given over to a breezeway with hanging gardens at the front and rear – a multistory pocket park towards which the main living spaces of the apartments are oriented.

This arrangement starkly contrasts with the standard plan of such buildings, which are oriented toward the noisy street and the often derelict open spaces to the rear. It also allows fenestration along three aspects of the units.
The rooms of the roughly symmetrical plan are oriented toward a breezeway that is planted at either end. The axis of symmetry is lateral rather than perpendicular to the street.
To keep material and trade costs within the constrained budget, concrete (which is ubiquitous, economical, and produced locally in Istanbul) serves as the structure as well as the finish of both the interior and exterior. A central core and a series of staggered, board-marked shear walls both delimit the spaces and visually convey the integrity of the construction, which is a marketable value in earthquake-prone Istanbul. The exterior walls employ a Thermomass cast-in-place sandwich wall system with embedded insulation.

The perceived level of enclosure of the spaces increases as one moves from the central entry hall towards the front or rear elevations of the building, giving the occupants a choice of atmospheres. Because of the limited floor area, ancillary spaces – like the bookshelf-lined dining booths – are tightly programmed and informed, like Christopher Alexander's Linz Cafe, by a notion of simple comfort. Gemütlichkeit.
In warm weather, a Venturi effect caused by the breezeway is used to draw air through the units. In addition to their biophilic value, the extensive hanging gardens and green roof lower the ambient air temperature and reduce concentrations of atmospheric pollutants by locally filtering gaseous contaminants before the air is drawn indoors. The leaves further contribute to removing particulate matter.

central light pipe lit by a heliostat on the roof not only illuminates the central core of the apartments but conveys the changing quality of natural light over the course of the day and from season to season. At night, a dim artificial lamp on the roof lights the same fixture, serving as a security light shared among the apartments. Moreover, the light well doubles as a dumbwaiter, facilitating the communal culture of food among Turkish families and neighbors.
The shared basement includes indoor and outdoor spaces to accommodate large family and communal gatherings, a lounge, and a guest-room that can also be let out as a short-term rental.

The uppermost unit is designed as a duplex, but other units can be similarly combined.
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