March 3, 2014

Project by NEMESTUDIO.


TYPO is a provocation. It is a speculative design project for the city of Istanbul.

The 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 space 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, the project speculates on specific architectural interactions between scale and form through various experiments on territorial legibility, repetition, and iconicity.

The larger ambition of the project is an investigation on the role of architecture at the scale of territory. It consists of the territorial collection of three types of punctual interventions and their further typological variation for particular sites in Istanbul. Rather than endless differentiation on a particular type, the language of the typological repetition is based on each intervention’s contextual specificity. Thus, the term TYPO has the double connotation of type as repetitive variation and typo as unexpected error or divergence from norm. The unity among various interventions is achieved via the reduction within the formal language of the project as a whole.

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 experiments on 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, the TYPO project 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 completely new approach. Similar to a master plan, a Master Framework aims at a unifying and legible framework; however, unlike a master plan that totalizes a closed system, a Master Framework offers an open and flexible framework. Similar to a collection of point interventions, a Master Framework is comprised of context-specific multiples; however, unlike point interventions, the system aims at a coherent and legible framework.

2. The TYPO project is a true believer of icons at the scale of territory. In contemporary architecture, iconicity is either reduced to the fantastic Bilbao Effect or to the degrading of the icon altogether. In contrast, TYPO asserts that territories can have forms; they can offer a very different level of legibility and iconicity.

3. Campus Commons 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 8 public and 30 private universities (number expected to rise in the following years). In this context, the Campus Commons project 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 and provide spaces for public universities in return. In contrast to a typical university model, where various disciplines (and related departments) disperse throughout the city under each university, CAMPUS COMMONS are a cluster of university infrastructures that are shared by multiple public and private universities. Each intervention’s enclosed form switches from being specific to an individual university to being specific to the institute’s relationship to urban context. In that way, Campus Commons become a depository for formal and contextual differentiation within the city. An individual university’s relationship to Campus Commons depends on its need for the specificity of urban form and resources available at each distinct campus. Hence, instead of existing in one form, the Campus Commons accommodate multiple institutional forms throughout the city.

Situated along the stops of the existing and future stops of major rail transit networks, the project works through variations of three site typologies: 1. City, 2. Infrastructural Edge, 3. 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 the particular program distribution (university, public and ancillary) and context (city, infrastructure, ecology). By virtue of its scale of intervention, each Campus Commons projects a particular preservation act for the city. Rather than a typical focus on the preservation of the built, each site typology demarcates a void and announces that area as a public ground of the city.

Campus Commons City Series are composed of three separate interventions, each of which are located in the inner city of Istanbul with distinct existing contexts (residential area, cultural center, high-density housing area). Each intervention defines a legible territorial frame within the existing context via a collection of individual Campus Commons buildings. This territorial frame not only marks an open and porous edge for the proposed buildings but it also defines a large urban landscape inside itself, which is a new commons for various parks and public programs.

Campus Commons 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.

Campus Commons Ecological Series are composed of separate interventions, each of which located at the intersection of the future rail stations at the ecological hinterland of Istanbul. The ecological zones of the city are mostly located around the water basins as determined by non-governmental wildlife organizations according to the intensity of biological diversity of fauna and flora. Via the three selected sites, the project marks those areas as terrains of preservation. Enabled especially by the subway connections, Campus Commons Ecological Series propose alternative formulations of wilderness articulated through bio-diversity parks, forests and low-density housing.

Project Team

Neyran Turan, Mete Sonmez, Kate Morgan, Alex Stitt, Renee Reder, and Chimaobi Izegou.