The TAO Insurance Office Tower, designed by Suyabatmaz Demirel Architects, has been designed as a high-rise building so as to play a symbolic figure in the Financial Center Project where it is located. Located on a sloped land on the northwest side of Atasehir Financial Center area in Istanbul, TAO Office Tower has many determining features to be a part of a mega finance district in the context of location, topography and urbanism. More images and architects’ description after the break.

A design proposal for a limited close competition organized by the client, the project land is close to the TEM Highway which is one of the main connection road between European and Asian Sides of Istanbul. Since it is located in front of the Financial Center Project’s land, it is perceived easily by the people who drives on the direction of Ankara. The project has to communicate well enough with its neighbors on the Financial Center in the future but at the same time it has to differentiate itself visually in order to sustain its commercial success. The steep slopes of the topography gives an opportunity to create spaces spreading horizontally below the ground. These outstanding features of the land are the inputs which shaped our approach and solutions to TAO Office Tower.

As the worst case scenario, it’s been expected that the buildings of the future Financial Center area will be much higher than the one of TAO Office Project under the same zoning conditions. Comparing with the neighboring buildings, TAO Office Tower will sit on a relatively lower level of the sloping land which would make it look even shorter than the buildings of future surrounding buildings.

In order to break this perception and to increase the office building’s visibility from the highway, the block has been designed as high as the zoning laws allowed. Thanks to this pertinent decision, the most possible high-rise building on this land has been achieved with the ideal floor space and plans. It’s been aimed to make TAO Office Tower visually perceivable at the maximum and also make it different from the other buildings by erecting it at the closest point to the TEM Highway.

One of the main conceptual terms upon which the design has been built and which creates its uniqueness and figurative shape, is “contrast”. ‘All meanings exist in the context of polarities. Would there be understanding of hot without cold, high without low, sweet without sour?’ (Donis A. Dondis, A Primer of Visual Literacy, 1973).

Contrast is a vital concept for our visual perception; the essential function of the human eye is to realize the differences in the fields of vision and transfer them to the intellectual field. The formations around us are owning their existences to the degree of these differences. A vision without a contrast is nothing but a dull monotony; there is only few things and even nothing to look at and see. The contrast in TAO Office Tower derives from the tension between the horizontal and vertical elements; it contributes to the figurative shape of the building differentiating it from the similar buildings. The constructional difference manifests itself at the difference between the rational vertical block and irrational horizontal block created by the folding of the land. The degree of the contrast and its effect is enhanced further more by rational and irrational formal characteristics of the buildings.

Because of the differences between the land elevations, two underground floors were built that allows the natural light in. Within these floors, open common spaces were inserted to be used as social and management facilities. These underground floors are literally shaped by folding the land and spreading it across the topography. This part of the building is imitating the complex relation of humans with the nature, acting almost like artificial caves and also blends the basement floors to the natural ground. This contrasting relation is also enhances with the vertical and horizontal tectonics of the project.

The form created by the folded land at the horizontal block twirls up as an irrational void around the vertical block which is a rectangular prism. This attractive irregular void ascending the sky spinning around the office block enables the building to differ from its surrounding by creating a new contrast inside the prismatic volume of a ruptured tower. Floor gardens are located at the points where this helical void touches the office floors which creates surprising spatial movements inside. The nature rises along with the building itself and is cultivated again by the human hand at each floor.

TAO Office Tower doesn’t act like a conventional building which consumes the nature on its land; on the contrary while it is rising above the land, the nature is provided to the users by being reproduced through architecture itself. Its sensitivity to the nature is to be the indicator of the whole investment carried out by TAO Office Tower in the name of sustainability and of being a green building.

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