Embassies and High Commission buildings invariably signify the spirit of their homeland. Some are coolly efficient, others bristling with security devices, yet others are charmingly chaotic and some are effusively welcoming. It is no accident that their architecture too conveys the attitudes of their populace and more specifically their political systems and their relationship to the global community.
Berlin, the largest city in Germany, has a population of 4 million, 20 per cent of whom are foreigners. By far the largest number of the diaspora are Turks who amount to 30 per cent. The German capital is the European city where Turks are most numerous and the majority of third-generation Turks have been in the country for at least 20 years. A prestigious representation of the Republic of Turkey was therefore seen as desirable.
The Turkish Consular Building comprises a linear courtyard flanked by three rectangular four-storey ‘blocks’ with the remaining side open, in the form of a wide portico that defines the entrance. A fourth, single-storey block that bridges the courtyard incorporates a large glazed roof light, permitting daylight to flood into the central space. Often used for outdoor social gatherings the courtyard is paved with natural stone. The space flows through the building as a continuation of the external landscape, and signifies the connection of the building to the city.
The design of the Turkish Chancellery is ultimately the resolution of a contradiction between the desire to create a building that symbolises the openness and welcoming nature of Turkish culture, and the requirement for security. A transparent perimeter ‘wall’ of steel and glass, designed to be resistant to terrorist attack, surrounds the embassy compound. Security checkpoints located at the boundary carry out initial screening of vehicles and pedestrians. Two further security checkpoints are located at either end of the central courtyard and visitors pass through an additional security device when entering one of the three building blocks. There are two levels of parking below ground.
The three blocks are differentiated from each other with variations in height, colour and materials. Their solidity and/or transparency is related to their function as offices, VIP area or meeting hall and to the limitation on access to the various parts. The materials used in the construction are a metaphor for the diverse regions of Turkey. White concrete seeks to create a memory of the architecture of the Mediterranean coast while timber is a building material commonly found along the Black Sea shores. Steel and glass convey Turkish architecture’s 20th century modernist legacy. The concrete and timber walls carry deeply incised patterns that are inspired by the tall black plane trees that surround the site. Reflecting pools of water on the north, east and west elevations allude to Turkey’s geographical location flanked by the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Seas. Antique stained-glass windows are integrated into the courtyard and two copper doors embossed with cuneiform writing frame the street entrance.
A mature plane tree located on the site is incorporated into the garden in front of the meeting hall. The plane tree symbolizes grandness and is a product of the serai (palace) culture. A plane tree used to be planted for the name of each shahzada born in the serai. In the Ottoman Empire, the family tree and portraits of sultans used to be illustrated among plane branches. It also alludes to the tree of life, the symbol of life since the Seljuk.
Since its re-establishment as the capital city of Germany and reflecting its status as ‘the most important crossing point’ between the former Eastern Block countries and Western Europe, Berlin has become the focus of major cultural change and there are numerous examples of new embassies and consular buildings being constructed. The Turkish Chancellery expresses strength and humility, clarity and sincerity. It endeavours to be in harmony with nature and to make optimum use of natural resources such as sunlight, landscape and water. Ultimately it is a sophisticated modern building that is intended to be a source of pride for the nation.
Site Area : 5.808 mē
Construction Area : 8.700 mē
THE TURKISH CHANCELLERY
2007 / berlin