Capital Hill residence by Mar Mimarlık LTD

Mar Mimarlık LTD have designed the Capital Hill residence – an extraordinary housing project – and sent us the images and a detailed description.

Capital Hill residence is maybe the most interesting house project of all times. With its architectural concept turning our perceptions regarding housing projects upside down, it deserves all approbation. Furthermore, it has literally been a turning point for our office.

Our Capital Hill adventure started upon a request from a globally renowned Turkish contractor company, with which we had been collaborating in Russia since many years. Frankly, what we had in mind initially was: “Let us not turn this request down, after all the project size is merely 2650 m², we can handle it anyway”. Well, it took us more than 36 months. When the projecting process was finalized, both we and the engineering team we worked with had gained invaluable experiences.

It was in 2006 when we first started to draw the construction projects of the building, the concept projects of which were designed by Zaha Hadid. Until then, we were used to design both concept and construction projects simultaneously. With Capital Hill residence, we had to break the projecting process down. The first time we had seen a similar approach was in November 1998, during a trip to France. On the plate of a construction, there were two names. The names of concept and realization architecture were separately cited. On those days, there was no example for such a practice in Turkey and honestly speaking, we had no idea that in only 8 years’ time we would become the pioneers of this method.

With its total size of 2650 m² Capital Hill was a small-scale project both for us and for the teams to handle the works at the site. However, it’s a typical geometry was a challenge for projection and works. It cost way more time and effort than other similar projects. On the other hand, everyone who worked for the project was forced to come up with new solutions regarding their fields to work out the constructional problems challenged by geometry. Professionally speaking, this compulsion carried each of us to a point way beyond where we started.

The starting point of Capital Hill project was the dense forest it is built in. The preliminary target of the house was to have a nice view amongst these exalted trees, al higher than 10 m. Therefore, the bedrooms were handled at the segment rising like a tower. When they go upstairs to their bedroom, residents find themselves overlooking a magnificent tree lake. The mass, placed on the ground floor, includes living areas, children’s rooms, service and staff areas and the garage. Here, I would like to point to an interesting detail. The section with the indoor pool can be converted to a party hall, when needed, through covering the pool with a motorized deck.

As a result of the nature of its design, the house has an organic form. Therefore, it has no two parts intersecting with 90 degrees. Housing numerous examples of high-end technology, the residence is designed to be super-comfortable. However, from our standpoint, this means that the project posed several technical problems that needed to be solved in compliance with its architectural character.

In projects designed for Russia, the issue of temperature differences is an important factor that affects the entire setting of the scheme. Many architectural measures, scarcely known or totally unfamiliar for Turkey, are inseparable elements of buildings constructed in Russian steps. Under its unique shell Capital Hill encompasses a bunch of these indispensable measures. Doubtless, the two most critical problems of this building were heating and air-conditioning.

The building is located on a point, where the temperature difference between indoor and outdoor environments is 40°C, on average. Assuming that it will be minus (-) 20°C outside and plus (+) 20°C inside, it will be clearly understood that 40° difference is actually a minimum. On the colder days of wintertime, this difference may in fact go up to 60 degrees. In line with the organic form of the building, the window joinery surfaces are similarly double-pitched, presenting a parabolic geometrical look. Handling the projecting process in such a geometric context, involved so many problems that it can literally be presented as a case report on the academic level. Some of these challenges that needed solutions were: the condensation on the windows, heating and ventilating the entire house without leaving any dead points and, of course, placing the necessary technical installations without spoiling the architectural texture.

Soon after our preliminary works on the Capital Hill project started to come out, we started to receive business offers for preparing as-built/ shop projects with assertive concepts. Since then, we started to work with large-scale and renowned architecture groups including SOM, HOK, RAMSA and HBA. These collaborations are currently ongoing.

We believe that –apart from its branching as architecture and interior architecture – this practice of this profession needs further specialization. After the completion of Capital Hill project, this belief was verified and fortified. When we were at the academy, the scholars did not agree with the segmentation of architecture / interior architecture. They all argued that the architect had to handle his/her project as an inseparable entity – designing the shell of the building, spatial organization and decoration with integrity and consistency. However, after 25 years, now we all find the architecture / interior architecture classification very natural and we see that it actually makes sense. What’s more, representing a more colorful side of architecture, interior architects – who directly contact the public circles – are way more popular than us, architects. We think that, in the near future, a further classification will be made: concept architects vs. as-built project designers. In fact, we believe that this classification will soon gain recognition and acceptance. Clearly, as the technology evolves, the spaces grow and the buildings’ functionalities get even more complicated. Consequently, buildings become organisms more complex than a single architect can deal with all by him/herself. Eventually, this multifaceted character of buildings will necessitate further specialization among architects. We believe that this obligation will become even stronger in the future.

As you know, architecture is an art branch that involves science and technics. We believe that soon it will become a scientific art branch that evolves through specialization, just like medicine did. As we have been following from literature, architects who made breakthroughs in technical solutions followed the footsteps of those who made breakthroughs in forms and vice versa. Today, separating concept and as-built architecture into two subcategories will actually be a declaration or verification of the obvious. Such a classification will help architecture faster than it ever did in terms of form and the constructional techniques to realize the projected forms.

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