The Izmir University of Economics - Guzelbahce Campus becomes instigator and core for the redevelopment of a large area between the coastal highway and the mountains of Izmir, known as the third most populous city after Istanbul and Ankara and as the fastest growing business centre of the extensive Turkish Aegean coast. Plasma Studio, with collaborators Buro Happold and PMA, won this invited international competition with a radical self-sustainable vision for the future: Guzelbahce Campus creates a consonant functionality of water, planting, circulation and architecture into one seamless system. The masterplan comprises of a 72,000 sqm building for university faculties, a 24,000 sqm school complex (K12: kindergarten + primary + secondary + high school) and 45333 sqm of secondary buildings (library, sport facilities, student dormitories, housing and services). The project will be developed in three phases: the construction will start in 2019, continue in 2027 and be completed in 2037, receiving approximately 7,500 students. The project is based on two complementing concepts: “Second Skin- Second Nature” and “Geometry of Necessities and Performance”. Given the steep topography of the terrain and the intention to stitch together the new buildings with the landscape, the task was to develop the massing as an artificial, jagged replication of the original hillscape. The landscape as “original” material is first indexed, then controlled, transformed and sculpted, forming an identity that is simultaneously an integral part of the local logical morphology, specific latitude and environment and a projection of the logic of human rational thinking and spatial ordering. The given topography and its existing slopes were used to draw out the paths in a way similar to how roads ribbon around a mountain, negotiating steepness with gradients. These paths vary in width ranging from main walkways and arteries to towpaths. The patches between these paths become the zones for various planting types and public areas. The overall campus contains a wide variety of buildings that are employed to articulate a synergy with and intensification of the natural conditions of the site. The park creates a variety of scales in association with very specific planting, surfacing and lighting, thus providing a gradient of experiences that ranges from the very intimate with semi-enclosed, shaded, self-contained, to the very public with communal plazas formed by wider pedestrian paths with full sun exposure and a direct visual link to the main hiatus on the site. Both, the university and the K12 school complex are organized as series of bands that run alongside the steep hillside and connected by a central perpendicular spine that enables concise distribution and forms a public heart with libraries, refectories, information and study areas. This configuration enables a clear hierarchy and orientation, as well as giving identity to the individual parts while fostering chance encounters and a vibrant communal life. Additional synergies derive from interspersing semi-public/ leisure activities within the academic environment, so as to create a common strata, to informally encourage social interaction, encounters and proliferation of knowledge across social and disciplinary confines.
Plasma is a leading innovative architecture studio that has evolved to productively engage with the complex potentials and challenges of today: With a worldwide scope and outlook, Plasma Studio is an award-winning architecture and design practice located in London, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bolzano. The studio is working on all scales from furniture and installations to urbanism and master planning. We have on-going projects and we are currently working on different projects at various stages as well as competitions. We are interested how architecture can perform as link between the global, regional, urban and environmental systems and forces on the one hand, and the sphere of subjective, individual corporeal experience on the other. To render visible some of the infinite pragmatic and poetic structures and by extension evoke a more active participatory environment.
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