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Year: 2013
Location: Istanbul, TR
Type: Large-scale/Territorial Design, Master Framework
Project Team: Neyran Turan, Mete Sonmez, Kate Morgan, Alex Stitt, Renee Reder, Chimaobi Izegou

The TYPO project proposes a network of Campus Commons, a new type of spatial organization and institutional framework for the university campuses in Istanbul. Positioned along the existing and future lines of major rail transit stops (subways, light rails, suburban trains), Campus Commons is a new type of collective institution that contains spaces for the university programs as well as other public amenities. While proposing a renewed dialogue between large scale interventions and territorial networks through typological investigation, TYPO proposes specific architectural interactions between scale and form through various experiments on territorial legibility and iconicity.

The larger ambition of the project is to introduce a new role for architecture at the scale of territory. For that, three types of territorial interventions and their further typological variations are established for particular sites in Istanbul. While the unity among various interventions is achieved via the reduction within the formal language of the project, each intervention’s typological repetition is based on its contextual specificity. Thus, the term TYPO has the double connotation of type as series that share a common language and typo as unexpected error or divergence from norm.

In distinction from the current preoccupation with complex geometries and sustainability agendas that reduce form to an automatic consequence of processes and systems (be it environmental, infrastructural, or parametric), TYPO projects a more nuanced relationship between abstraction and realism. It strives for a new primitive.

The project puts forward three propositions:

1. Instead of a master plan, TYPO proposes the idea of Master Framework. Master Framework is situated between two known models of urban design: a master plan (e.g. Lucio Costa’s Brasilia) and a collection of point interventions (e.g. Mathias Ungers’s Green Archipelago for Berlin). Master Framework accommodates certain features of both models but proposes a new approach. Similar to a master plan, a Master Framework aims at a unifying and legible framework; however, unlike a master plan’s totalizing closed system, a Master Framework offers an open and flexible structure. Similar to a collection of point interventions, a Master Framework is comprised of context-specific multiples; however, rather than relying merely on contextual specificity, the system aims at a coherent and legible framework.

2. TYPO offers a new model of spatial organization and institutional framework for the role of university campuses in the city. Until 1980s, all education in Turkey was public and private higher education was unconstitutional. The constitutional amendment of 1981 allowed private foundations to establish universities; and after that, the growth of new private universities accelerated, mostly concentrated in big cities. In Istanbul alone, there are 9 public and 40 private universities (number expected to rise in the following years). In this context, the TYPO proposes a new framework, in which the public and the private sponsors (former the State, latter private foundations) collaborate on a new university model. The government land is leased to private universities with the condition that they share resources with and provide spaces for public universities in return. In contrast to a typical university model, where various disciplines (and related departments) are located in a campus that belongs to one university, Campus Commons is a collective form that accommodates multiple public and private universities in one location.

3. In contemporary architecture, iconicity is reduced either to the fantastic Bilbao Effect or to the degrading of the icon altogether. In contrast, TYPO asserts that territories can have forms and that they can offer a very different level of legibility and iconicity.

Situated along the stops of the existing and future stops of major rail transit networks, the project works through variations of three site typologies: city, infrastructural edge, ecological terrain. Each site typology includes percentages of supplementary programs and public facilities. In parallel, each geographic condition frames a specific dimension in relation to program distribution (university, public and ancillary) and scale of intervention (city blocks urban infrastructures, ecological terrain). 

TYPO_City Series are composed of three separate interventions, each of which located in the inner city of Istanbul with distinct contexts (residential area, cultural center, high-density housing area). Each TYPO_City Series intervention defines a legible territorial frame within the existing context via a collection of individual campus buildings. This territorial frame also acts as an open and porous edge for the redefined territorial void inside itself, which accommodates various small public parks and related programs. TYPO_Infrastructural Series are composed of three separate interventions, each of which located at the urban edges of Istanbul where a rail network coalesces with a major highway system. Each intervention defines a megaform and houses programs that require large spans as well as major railway stations. Each megaform is situated within a larger territorial area, which accommodates various outdoor activities of the campus, including sports arenas and large city parks. TYPO_Ecological Series are composed of three separate interventions, each of which located at the intersection of the future rail stations and ecological zones located within the larger hinterland of Istanbul.  Via the three selected sites, the project marks those areas as terrains of preservation. Enabled especially by the subway connections, TYPO Ecological Series propose alternative formulations of wilderness articulated through bio-diversity parks, forests and low-density housing.