• Stiri


    Esma Sultan Palace, from ruins to multi-purpose event space

    Arch. Gokhan Avcioglu, Founder of GAD (Global Architectural Development) in Turkey, will be attending this year’s INGLASS Bucharest (June 14), with a presentation about the Esma Sultan Palace, a multi-purpose event space in Ortakoy, Istanbul.

    About the speaker

    Gokhan’s projects include office buildings, public and commercial spaces, hotels and residences in Istanbul, Bodrum, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Libya, Beirut, Riyadh, and Kiev. Gokhan has also designed various stores in Manhattan, NY, and restaurants in Istanbul Washington DC. Highlights of his recent projects include a mixed-use residential and commercial project in Ortakoy, Istanbul, the Shell Headquarters Building (now Dogan Holding) Altunizade, the Beyoglu Borusan Music Center, Esma Sultan, the Bodrum Kuum Hotel, Eskisehir Rixos Spa, Thermal Hotel, Trump Cadde shopping mall, Autopia, Relux suite offices and the Besiktas Fish Market. He has also completed residential lofts in Washington DC, hotels and private residences in Bodrum, Kazan, Russia and a public park in Libya.

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    He has won numerous awards, including the 1997 Turkish Architecture Prize, the 2001 Cimsa Design Prize, a bronze medal at the Miami Bienal in 2003, Archmarathon Award in 2014, German Iconic Awards in 2014, Chicago Athenaeum Green Good Design Award in 2014 and 2012, Mipim AR Future Awards in 2013 and 2012 and International Property awards in 2013. A number of projects have been short-listed for the Aga Khan award for Architecture, including two projects in Kadikoy Park, completed in 1998 2004, Yalova Elyaf, completed in 2001, Esma Sultan, completed in 2005, Kuum Hotel in 2009, and Borusan Music Center, completed in 2009.

    Gokhan Avcioğlu and GAD’s projects have been exhibited at Galerist Istanbul, the Minima Art gallery in Philadelphia, Miami Bienal, the Musuem of Architecture in Rotterdam, and at the Royal Art Academy in London. In April 2008, objects designed by Gokhan Avcioğlu were shown at the Block Exhibition in Milan. In 2010, GAD’s works were exhibited in Los Angeles. In 2011 – 2012, his projects were shown at Prague Design Week and in 2012 the One and Ortakoy project was exhibited at The Chicago Athenaeum Museum.

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    Gokhan Avcioğlu has been recognized by a number of different publications, including Wallpaper, Surface, City Magazine, NY Times, The New York Post, Transforming Cities – Urban Interventions in Public Cities, Braun Malls and Department stores, Archtektur fuehrer Istanbul, Gestalten Let’s go out, Monocle, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, plus design books such as World Houses Now, Urban Houses and Cafes, Restaurants and Bars, Atlas of Contemporary Architecture, Modern Interiors – Cool Restaurants in Istanbul. Gokhan has also been featured in TV programs, including BBC Channel 4.

    In 2001, Gokhan held a studio at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, Yildiz Technical University, plus Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul.

    In 2013, he established the GADFOUNDATION (Gadev) foundation, which aims to promote Turkish architects and art production, informing people about architecture in addition to assisting students with various types of support to ensure excellent achievement in their education. He is continuously working towards this happy outcome in addition to projects for his foundation with an emphasis on various social aspects of architecture.

    GAD is currently callaborating with Cecil Balmond, Philip Gumuchdjian, and with Jeff Lee Mark Papa in international projects. Gokhan Avcioğlu also has offices in New York, Bodrum, and Dubai, and is currently sharing his time between these locations. Mr. Avcioğlu is a member of AIA New Tork Chapter, the Royal Institude of British Architects (RIBA) and Chamber of Architects Turkey (TMMOB).

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    About the project

    Esma Sultan is a multi-purpose event space in Ortakoy, Istanbul, in the center of the city in a busy entertainment district on the banks of the Bosphorus. Planting a glass and steel box inside the ruins of a palace to create a covered venue that constantly reminds us of the multiple histories innate in the new design.

    The brick palace was built approximately 200 years ago for Esma Sultan, an Ottoman Sultan’s wife as a summer palace. Destroyed by fire over a century ago, the exterior brick walls are all that remain of the building. In 1999, The Marmara Hotel decided to adaptively reuse the beautiful land-marked ruin, keeping the walls as a framework and support for a modern interior space inserted within to create an event and exhibition venue. Commissioned to renovate and redesign the space, GAD designed a thin but strong stainless steel and glass box that is suspended within the brick structure.

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    Glass buildings are often inappropriate in countries that have hot climates, however, the brick surroundings that remain of the palace made it possible for GAD to introduce this rarely seen architecture in Turkey. The brick walls inadvertently create a shelter for the transparent glass box from the sun, rain and wind. Multi-leveled, the new building incorporates a bar and restaurant on the ground floor and a conference room or event space on the second floor entered by a wooden and steel curved staircase. The glass box is tethered to the brick walls with suspension rods, which ensures the two separate structures remain equidistant from each other and can therefore withstand extreme weather conditions and earthquakes.

    From the outside, the building gives the illusion that the palace remains in its original state. From inside, guests are reminded of the building’s former incarnation, with views of the Bosphorus made possible though the original arched brick window frames. The building encourages comparison between modern construction methods with those of 200 years ago.

    About the office

    Global Architectural Development has been a leader in research and concept design in Europe since 1994. The firm is headed by design principle Gokhan Avcioglu, who works with a dedicated international staff of architects and collaborators. GAD believes that current architecture and urbanism are influenced by media, culture, technological innovations, consumer habits and how these factors affect the builded environment at different scales.

    GAD’s success lies in its methodical research of their clients’ programmatic requirements, its iterative process of digital and physical modeling and meticulous process innovation. GAD believes that architecture as a practice relies on understanding historical architecture movements as well as research and experimentation. GAD is continuously finding new ways to combine these issues in compelling and thought-provoking ways.

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    The firm’s main office is in Istanbul and additional offices in New York Bodrum, Kazan and Kiev. GAD & Gokhan Avcioglu have designed a wide range of projects from the small scale of a private home to the large scale of an urban masterplan. While many of their realised projects are highly recognized public facilities, such as cultural centers, they have also completed several distinguished private projects including apartment buildings, offices and hotels.


    • PROJECT AWARD: short-listed for the Aga Khan award for Architecture
    • 2015 European Property Awards Industrial Development for Turkey with PINAR Logistics Center, International Property Awards
    • 2015 European Property Awards Residential Development for Turkey with AHK KNDU Villas, International Property Awards
    • 2015 Green Good Design Awards for Trump Cadde, The European Centre for Architecture & The Chicago Athenaeum
    • 2015 Green Good Design Award with MRTR Istanbul, The European Centre for Architecture & The Chicago Athenaeum
    • 2015 Green Good Design Award with Divan Kurucesme, The European Centre for Architecture & The Chicago Athenaeum
    • 2015 The Plan Awards, juror

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