Magnaura, a part of the Byzantium Grand Palace, is a brick-paved, interior vaulted stone building that connects the building units to each other with tunnels and ramps, located in different elevations. Its name is derived from the Latin phrase Magna Aula meaning a hall capable of containing large number of people, where official ceremonies, meetings are held. Reflecting that the Tower of Stairs which has been unprotected for a very long time is now being renovated to restore its original character and to become a part of contemporary life.
The minimal intervention proposed enhances the spirit of the place, but through the introduction of modern infrastructure. The interventions that transform the structure into an arts and culture program re-valuates the existing structure, not as a single entity but as an essential part of urban life and its environment. Completing and enhancing the remaining structure, the historical characteristics are brought forth via timeless materials and design decisions that introduce revitalization through functional and contemporary additions.
Not through imitation, but through an architectural design that values reinstating at the most, the parts of the building that can be maintained are protected, and reinstated to their original conditions meanwhile new contemporary additions are introduced, completing the functionality, integrity and the programmatic layout of the building.
The ground level houses galleries for permanent exhibition on the history of the area and the Byzantine Palaces in general, meanwhile in the upper stories there are permanent and temporary exhibition halls, book store and multi-purpose rooms along with sculpture courtyards & open air activity spaces. The proposed spatial layout connects the two street levels, with the introduction of a clearly defined route through the premises, an invigorating walk that is enhanced by volumetric and spatial qualities of the original building.
Through their structural and spatial 'traces', former unity of the building is restored, with the introduction of two former large volumes, one in the front entrance and one in the back. The two storied new volumetric additions as glass and steel boxes with vaulted openings are carefully designed as a reflection of the original façade, housing exhibition and multi-purpose halls respectively.
The new units, purposefully do not overpower the original texture, on the contrary they become unified with the original structure through their transparency and through neutral and complementing material choices like Byzantinian stucco and glass. The extensions, in turn, become a contemporary layer reflecting the shadow of the history in today's terminology. The spirit of the place is thus protected, but contemporary architecture is grafted to its skin, obtaining the utmost harmony and balance with this specific cultural entity and its values.
With its long family tradition since 1950’s, spanning over six decades, Tabanlıoğlu Architects is established in 1990 by Murat Tabanlıoğlu (RIBA, Chartered Member, Int'l. Assoc. AIA,) and Dr. Hayati Tabanlıoğlu. Melkan Gürsel (AIA Int.) joined the group as a partner in 1995. Istanbul-based architectural firm demonstrates a professionalism based on rigor and know-how, and searching for new efficiencies in terms of global and environmental needs and developments, the practice is currently engaged in major assignments worldwide, having offices in Dubai, Doha, London and New York with 200 employees. Operating mainly in Turkey, MENASA and CIS Countries, winner of international awards like RIBA International, Tabanlıoğlu works comprise wide range of building types. Respecting resources and existing values, office aims high to benefit new technologies, envisioning needs of people of our era of novelties and rapid changes.