Turkey’s recent boom economy, though now bust, is manifest in Maslak, Istanbul’s business district. Office blocks, malls, and high-rent residential towers, arising haphazardly, have formed a skyline with little coherence. In the absence of urban planning, Turkish corporations have vied to embody their power and prestige in buildings, forming a mismatched, chest-beating architectural tribe. There is one office tower in the area, however, whose voluptuous, textured silhouette stands out against the hard, glossy grids and erratic geometries. Designed by Emre Arolat Architecture, Maslak Tower No. 1 is named for its street address. It occupies an irregular site—at the confluence of two busy boulevards, limited by local code to a footprint of only 7,535 square feet and 20 stories (280 feet) high—while surrounding towers rise to about 50 stories.
“The client was looking for an extravaganza, something distinct from the others,” Arolat says, “but the business partners didn’t have a site on which it was possible to do a grandiose or powerful-looking building. I told them that it’s not easy, when everyone is shouting, to make yourself heard. To distinguish oneself, it’s better to be very, very quiet.” It turned out that, although regulations restricted the building’s floor area, there was no limitation on the volume of the building. “We realized that if we created a void inside, it wouldn’t count in the regulation’s numbers,” explains Arolat’s partner, Gonca Paşolar, “but the building would look much bigger than it really was.”