Nice to Meet You, We Are HELIX

In this semester, we are working as a group and defining an office for us. First job for us was naming the office and define the characteristic of the firm. And here you go, we are HELIX and now I will introduce you how we act for an architectural problem as an office.


The name Helix is coming from the shape of the DNA itself. The idea of DNA assists us in many terms. As HELIX Design Studio, we are aiming to consider the needs of the people in many terms. While responding to needs, the design of the project is act as adaptable, renewable and complementary.  These terms are coming from the DNA…

 You can see further about our name, approach and so on in the brochure below. And I will attach other members of Helix, so you can visit their blogs, too.

iç son

Alperen Gümüş

Büşra Sontur

Doğa Öykü Önen

Rami Al-Azzawi


Building a Library to Vladivostok, Russia

After pre-jury 1, we were introduced by site data 2. We have been given different cities from different countries, different road conditions, in short different site conditions.  For my case, I was assigned to worked on Vladivostok, Russia, with a site that has two roads, a park and a low-rise building. So, in this post I want to give some information about Vladivostok.

This city is close to North Korea, so it has nice weather, not cold but not hot either because of the Musson. The architecture of the city has some conditions. First of all, while designing a building, architect should have a certain distance from the nearby building. Since there is not much sun, shadow of the building should be considered. Also, the era is rainy, so it should be also considered.

Actually, these data improved my design. In first there is a park that should be considered. Since two side of the area are road and there is one building in west, the building should have a view to park. At least this was my first interpretation. Let see what we will do next.


Take Notes for Me!|Jury Buddy Reports

As TEDUArch we had a tradition about juries. Every student has a jury buddy that take notes for he/she. It was a useful idea for student because during the jury we can’t totally understand what jury members said because of the nervous environment.  Was the buddy of Şeyma Dilara Aldemir and now you are about the read her jury.

Dilara’s general idea is that gathering up the spaces around the circulation system. Every program work in itself like mini factories and this program places around the circulation system. She tried to solve volume in one another. It provides relation between the programs according to her idea. The spaces which is interlock to the vertical circulation system, forms regenerative bundles and power station which have a different activity. These activities are not isolated each other thanks to the idea of solving volume in one another.

The main critique that she took from jury was about the diagram that she has. In her diagram she had spaces that interlocked from one main system, but they couldn’t see it neither her drawings nor her model. They said there are spaces that are coming together but not in the way that the diagram shows. Other problem was location of the building on topography. Jury asked her why she locate her structure in a crosswise manner and said that there are some undefined areas in topography and she can solve it by locating the building. Jury was satisfied with the drawings but there were some problems about where that section was passing through plans and the name of the plans. Lastly, they added some proportions and dimensions are problematic in sections. But it was because they couldn’t see where those sections passing because after she shows those spaces in her model they said okay.

You can see her process in her blog by clicking here.

And here is a photo of her jury and me at the right taking notes as a jury buddy 🙂img_5105

What Happens to all of that Sections?|GAPS Final

Hi, final juries are finally over, and I would like to talk a little about my jury experience and how was my jury.IMG-5506.JPG

First, after the second pre-jury I tried to improve my design. As a strategy I have still two units that are productive and housing units. That two units are separated from each other by a wall and that wall is the main element of the design. I tried to make that wall more obvious. That’s why I changed the thickness of the wall. And the wall extend itself through surrounding of the structure. Also, by shifting the wall through the other unit I designed service kit, so I have an axial way for the service kits and around the wall there is horizontal circulation, too. That was the general idea of my proposal.

Now let’s move on the jury. After I finished the explanation of the strategy, silence covered the hall area. No one was talking, and no one made any comment about my proposal. That time was the most nervous part of my jury experience. I was waiting for the comment and time was passing and I started to feel nervous. Anyway. After those horrible moments I took some suggestions. The first one was about the obviosity of the wall. Even though I try to make it obvious, jury members said that it was not enough. It may be long and more obvious. Second suggestion was about the location of vertical circulation, stairs. The wall can hold the stairs as well, like it holds the service kits. But the problem about that suggestion is I have an idea about ‘+’ shape with vertical and horizontal circulation. I explained it of course and it was somehow okay.

The biggest problem was about my model. I was okay with my drawings, my diagrams and my mass model but the section models… I don’t know why but it became a nightmare for me and it has a lot of problems and not expressive enough. Jury said that, too. So, I can say that, I must work on modelling next time.


I guess it’s all about my jury. I know I have a lot of to work and I am not sure, but I can work on to improve my design for m portfolio. (Let’s hope like that)

1350-1500| Humanist Italy – 1500-1600|The Ottoman Empire

Humanist Italy

Renaissance also knows as the movement to revive ancient Greco-Roman culture had some effects on Florence. The artists and architects in Florence had not only copied thee antiquity but also discovered some principles of design in order to surpass their models.

Painters led the way by perfecting perspective vision, a scientific mode of seeing that put all the parts in relation to the whole. Architects followed, discovering harmonious proportions linked to the classical orders.


Piero della Francesca – Ideal City (Perspective Vision in Renaissance)

Humanism affected the new palaces and churches and also Italian cities changed their character and they became more uniform scale and geometric basis.

The Dome of Florence and Its Architect, Filippo Brunelleschi

The wealthiest families from merchant dominated the artistic output of Florence during the fourteenth century.  Thanks to their collective resources they sponsored great civic projects, including the public palace -Palazza Vecchio- the new cathedral of Santa Maria del Flore, the public grain market of Or San Michele, the city walls and the bridges.

Most public works in Florence used rounded arches, symmetrically placed bays and harmonious proportions that were based on whole numbers such as 1:1, 1:2 and 2:3. Because of these ratios, they came up with a new way of seeing and treating for buildings as freestanding objects in proportional scale. Public space of city principals developed after the emergence of perspective vision. L-shaped Piazza della Signoria that surrounded Palazzo Vecchio is an example of this situation. During the 14th century, the urban magistrates made a final patch of houses to connect initial rectangular piazza on the north to a second piazza that served the new southwest entry. These two enlarged spaces came together on a grid of flagstones and brick pavers. The city’s public palace and a bell tower placed in relation to its surroundings.


Piazza della Signoria

The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore’s construction began in 1296.Arnolfo di Cambio was the designer of the cathedral who was the designers of that time civic projects. He proposed a simple Gothic style with quadripartite ribbed vaults spanning the nave and two side aisles. A few years later Francesco Talenti extended the length of the nave an extra bay and outlined the area for a huge octagonal dome. The diameter of the dome was as wide as Pantheon in Rome. Neri di Fioravanti came up with a scale that was showing the dome’s central octagon. Central octagon was stepped down to three partial octagons and each of them contained five radiating chapels.

The structural system of Fioravanti’s dome was based on the twelfth-century Baptistery of San Giovanni. After a competition in 1418, Filippo Brunelleschi took charge of the project. The architect -Brunelleschi- amazed the city by proposing to build new dome without falsework, he invented a structure that supported the dome during the process of construction. Brunelleschi’s dome had a double-shelled structure. Combination of clever masonry techniques and a ribbed skeleton girded by nine horizontal supports concealed between two layers was the main idea of Brunelleschi’s double-shelled dome. Brunelleschi used some Gothic programs elements such as pointed arches and ribs he also added some several all’antica motifs to exterior of the dome. Dome has a lantern that crowning it, completed after Brunelleschi’s death. It has some buttresses made with classical fluted pilasters and reserved-curve volutes.

Brunelleschi’s Dome

The same year with the beginning of the construction of the dome, Brunelleschi designed the Founding Hospital (Ospedale degli innocent) originally an orphanage. While designing the hospital, Brunelleschi took references from earlier hospitals in Florence, he used long halls and courtyards set behind a public loggia, the façade has a distinct classical appearance, with ancient-style Corinthian columns and pilasters. The hospital had a stage like relation with the piazza and this stage like relation added an even greater sense of drama.


Courtyard f Ospedale Degli Innocenti

The dome of the Old Sancristy of San Lorenzo was also designed by Brunelleschi and it financed by the Medici family. The system of San Lorenzo included the tomb for the patron and his wife under the table in the center of the room. The dome settles in the cubic volume on pendentives, resembling the shape of a hemispherical umbrella divided by twelve round-arch ribs. A smaller hemispherical dome covered the dome.

The church of San Lorenzo rebuilt by Brunelleschi in 1420s. Michelozzo, the Medici family architect completed this ongoing project during the following four decades.  The church reminded the early Christian basilicas of Rome, such as Santa Maria Maggiore. They placed a flat coffered ceiling over the nave, while setting the side aisles behind arcades raised on slender Corinthian columns. Brunelleschi and Michelozzo maintain a new sense of rational clarity and luminosity for a sacred space.

The Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire settled in western Anatolia during the fourteenth century and the aim was reviving the power of the ancient Roman Empire. Their engagement to urban culture was foundation of imarets that included a mosque, a tomb, a bath, a religious school and a soup kitchen The Ottomans put a shallow dome over every bay of their significant building and this situation led to create a strong sense of internal order. After conquering Constantinople in 1453, design of the mosques was influenced by the church of Hagia Sophia. Sinan who was the main architect in Ottoman Empire, he established an Ottoman style as assured and recognizable as that of the ancient Roman.

 The Prospect of a Muslim Roman Empire: Royal Mosques and Imarets

The Turks in Anatolia mostly called by the name of “Rum” and they looked forward to Roman precedents in their conquests. They continued a well-organized military to oversee the construction and maintenance of public works like the ancient Romans. The impressive projects of infrastructure built by the Ottoman army, like the new walls of Jerusalem, the Süleyman Bridge at Büyükçekmece, and the Mağlova aqueduct, rivaled those of the Romans.

The Ottomans encouraged a rich urban life like building markets, baths and great religious complexes. Ottoman urbanism displayed a preference for local symmetry, in which only the parts of a larger whole remained in equilibrium.

Ottoman architects were influenced by Anatolian region for their architectural models. They imitated the vaulted masonry of Armenian churches, the beehive domes of Seljuk tombs and Persian arcades.

 The Orhan Gazi Cami (mosque) built in Bursa in 1339 designed as the basic reverse T plan of early Ottoman royal mosques. The entry façade of mosque had a five-bay porch, made with pointed arches. Interior of the mosque, there are 2 central domes covered an axial prayer hall leading to mihrab, while the minor domes on the sides covered rooms.


Orhan Gazi Camii

The reverse T shape mosque type used in many other royal foundations in Bursa. Green Mosque -Yeşil Cami- is one of the example. Unlike the strange details on Orhan’s mosque, they brought together all elements proportionally and repeated them serially. Upper story windows glazed with green and blue panes brought light into the mosque and delicate muqarnas articulated niches.


Green Mosque

It belonged to a religious imaret and a charitable institution which was introduced by the Ottomans. Imarets usually included a mosque, a turbe (tomb of the donor) one or more madrasas (religious schools) a hammam (bath) and sometimes a hospital and a tekke for the monks.

The Ulu Cami is differed in type from the reverse T royal mosques. It has the hypostyle model that found throughout Southwest Asia. It has bays and each of its twenty bays carried a rounded dome. This square bay with a rounded dome became a unit in Ottoman architecture that they repeated in many buildings.

Constantinople Becomes Istanbul

Constantinople conquered in 1453 by Mehmed II known as Fatih, the Conqueror. They changed the name of the city Constantinople to Istanbul and after the change of the name, Mehmed II tried to rearrange the population by allowing Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Italian traders to settle. In order to encouraged he merchant activity, he built the markets of Kapali Çarşi which like the Koza Han in Bursa. It has square bays capped with rounded, lead-covered domes.

Kapalı Çarşı (Istanbul) Koza Han (Bursa)

The young sultan considered the majestic Hagia Sophia s his great prize and quickly coverted the venerable Palatine church into a royal mosque. They added a minaret and three others were added later he inserted into its eastern apse a mihrab. The Fatih Cami was also inspired by the great Byzantine church.

1200-1350| Gothic Europe

Traders of Italia gained great success in Mediterranean and because of this success the culture exchange and possible commercial of the rest Europe spirited up. In France Gothic style was encouraged by both monarchy and clergy as both a cultural and a natural enterprise. In contrast to heavy barrel vaults of Romanesque churches, the Gothic cathedrals had pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses to achieve glamorous heights and mysterious luminosity.

The City Returns: Market Towns and New Towns

The birth of Gothic architecture coincided with the groundswell of medieval European urbanism. City walls expended because of the new prosperity of the cities and this formation encouraged the gigantic cathedrals and impressive civic buildings such as town halls, covered markets and hospitals. Most towns built on orthogonal plans that revived the idea of public space.

The counts of Champagne and the bishop of Troyes settled their palaces in the old town. They encouraged the traders and the growing economy of Troyes helped the reconstruction of the cathedral, the founding of the new church of St. Urbain, and the foundation of a new hospital.


St. Urbain Facade

The hospital of Troyes had similar approach with the hospital of Notre-Dame de Fontenilles at Tonnerre. Both structures had a hall which was covered with a wooden barrel vault.

The canal system of the Troyes also improved and several civic monuments such as the Belfry, the Cloth Hall and the Waterhalle also constructed in the city. The Belfry’s courtyard resembled the fonduk type in Cairo without the traders’ apartment above and it became the model for European stock exchange building. The Waterhalle was also constructed the same year with the Belfry and it had an immense covered hall, fifteen bays long which straddled the canal. The pitch of the roof at each end are designed with stepped gables by designer.

The Zahringer counts started the concept of the new town as an establishment. They sponsored a lot of market towns and each of them structured on a broad central street. One of the most successful one was Freiburg-im-Breisgau and Berne. They latterly, created a second street, cross-axial to the first. The Zahringer planners didn’t leave specific sites for cathedrals and town street. But after construction the citizens found secondary positions for religious and institutional buildings.

The Gothic Cathedral: The Grown of the City

Gothic style in church building gave distinct details to classical style of the Romans. It was nurtured by the building explosion in European. The designers started to experiment with slender structural members to achieve verticality. They suggested to eliminate the mass of walls and create heavenly interior light. In order to achieve this idea, they used 3 structural expedients: pointed arches, ribbed vaults and flying buttresses. Those systems were not an invention but by bringing them together they served the symbolic potential of light.

Barrel Vault, Flying Buttress, Pointed Arch

Gothic architecture began with Abbot Suger who was a Benedictine monk. He wrote down his ideas about reconstruction of the abbey church of St. Denis. The interior of the church was thought as glass window to achieve the light. He started to design the facade of the church. He kept the imperial Carolingian westworks and insert between two towers an oculus. This motif became a repetitive pattern for all successive Gothic churches’ facade. 

St. Denis Facade and rose glasses

Reconstruction of the St. Denis by Abbot Suger gave inspiration to other churches construction. By the end of the 12th century more than a dozen large cathedrals was underway in Gothic style.

The designers of the Notre Dame at Laon improved Suger’s concepts to a comprehensive architectonic system. The cathedral finished in 1215 and it provided a symbol of cohesion for once-divided city. The church was seeing in plan like the apse squared off without the typical chevet, while the choir extends beyond the transept almost isomorphic with the nave. Ribbed vaults extended both areas but they leaved syncopated rhythm in the slender supports that sprang from regular, stout ground-floor columns. The ribbed vaults supported by external flying buttresses, settle between large voided areas for tall windows that brought daylight to interior.

The cathedral at Chartres began as a small church and rebuilt after a fire. While this reconstruction they expanded the church and increase the cathedral’s strong attraction for pilgrims. The new church seemed as overscale for a city of fewer than 10000 residents. The church was working on a vertical axis with the help of the spires and buttresses.


Chartres Cathedral

Verticality became a theological necessity for Gothic cathedral builders. The ribbed vaults of the Chartres reached almost 38 m.  The flying buttresses on the exterior of the Chartres worked as a light proceeded. Exterior flying buttresses received the thrusts of the vaults as exoskeletal flyers. The lower flyers sprouted rows of stout columns like the spokes of a wheel.

600-800| The Spread of Islam

Islam is a religion that developed around the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings and began in Arabian Desert. The religion was easy to grasp that’s why it gained wide approval. The cities built up around the religion Islam, include mosques which generally built as multicolumned prayer hall. Mosques also had minaret which are a slender tower for the muezzin or crier. Thanks to these minarets cities gained a vertical axis.

Mecca and Medina: The Cities of Muhammad and His Followers

The new religion of Muhammad settled in an oasis settlement which was Mecca and Medina. During the seventh century Islam spread rapidly. For a long time, Mecca was a significant cult site for the nomadic tribes of Arabia. Kaaba, which is a cubical granite house, included a mysterious black meteorite and containing many idols, has a religious meaning for pilgrims and they were coming through Kaaba. After many battles between Muhammad and the non-believer to him, Mecca finally conquered, and Muhammad stripped the Kaaba of its pagan iconography. After the half of the seventh century Kaaba was covered a black silk drape for protection. Kaaba is a representation of the faithfulness of the Muslims.kaaba-1024x681


Apart from the Kaaba in Mecca, Muhammad turned his own house as first congregational mosque. In 620s, Muhammad and his followers added a square courtyard to the west of the Prophet’s house. Muhammad supported religious attitudes in architecture and using vernacular methods for mud-brick walls and palm-trunk roof. The first prayer hall faced through Jerusalem and this direction called as qibla which means direction of prayers. After conquering the Mecca, the qibla changed it direction to Kaaba. The first Muslims preferred to base their cult buildings on secular structures they rejected the form of pagan temples like the early Christians. First mosques took the place of the forum-basilica from Roman cities. Also, the first mosques had a simple architecture without apses, side chapels, ambulatories, crypts, baptisteries or choirs. In theory, any kind of architecture would suffice basic requirements and transformed to mosques. There is three most common plans for mosques: the basilica with longitudinal aisles directed to the qibla, transverse basilica with lateral exposure to the qibla wall and the isotropic hypostyle hall.

The ideology of jihad causes the Arab domination of Sassanian Persia and the southern Mediterranean. The architect Abu al-Haiyaj, structured the new city -Kufah- on a grid with two broad cross streets. Each of the four quadrants of Kufah contained an open plaza or maydan surrounded by orthogonally arranged streets.

The Umayyad Period: Jerusalem and Damascus,

The Umayyads settled in the Greco-Roman city of Damascus, Syria. They sponsored a brilliant urban culture based on the example of the Byzantines in Constantinople. Arabs like the other nomadic people, had limited knowledge about masonry architecture.  They learned forms and techniques from Persian, Roman and Byzantine. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the first great Umayyad monument was built up by a Byzantine architect and mosaic artists from Constantinople. It was constructed on an elevated terrace toward the center of the Temple Mount. The central-plan structure resembled a Christian martyrium. The passage that was surrounding the rock had two other characteristics which became common in Islamic architecture: pointed arches and ablaq that alternating bands of different-colored masonry. The dome roses as a double-shell structure over a cylindrical drum. Also, the Dome of the Rock’s central plan differed from Christian churches with the use of two concentric ambulatories. In order to attract non-Muslims, the monument was built as the most visible monument in city.


The Dome of the Rock

Abd al-Malik’s son al Walid I built three impressive mosques. The first entailed enlarging the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina. He added mosaics and the first mihrab to indicate the qibla to Mecca. The second, the al-Aqsa Mosque, maintained a congregational hypostyle hall   on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Al-Walid I’s third project was the Great Mosque of Damascus. Like the Dome of the Rock, the new mosque in Damascus reutilized the principal Greco-Roman temenos. The Great Mosque of Damascus was like Hagia Sophia. It had the idea of palace and mosque. On the corners of the southern wall of the temenos, guard towers served as muezzin’s call. Lately, these towers served as the first minarets and they became the most monumental element of later mosques. Even though, nothing left from the Umayyad palaces in Damascus, the ruins create an evidence of great magnificence.

The Abbasid Succession: New Capitals Baghdad and Samarra

The Umayyad dynasty enlarged the empire of Islam to its further extent, from Indus valley in the east to Spain and Morocco in the west. Abbasid dynasty took power from Umayyad with the Battle of Zab near Kufah. The capital of the Islam was changed through those dynasty. In time of Umayyad the capital was Harran and the second Abbasid caliph settled the capital Baghdad. Several generations later capital was changed Baghdad to Samarra. Here, the caliphs constructed several grand imperial palaces.

Like Kufah, early Baghdad had two major cross-axial streets; instead of being lined with arcades, they were covered by vaults. The outer ring of round Baghdad’s blocks contained hoses for the caliph’s family and noble people inner ring for military barracks and administration.

In Samarra, in order to complete the city, they built the largest mosque in the world, the Great Mosque of Samarra, in scale of Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The inner sahn of the mosque had arcades four columns deep. The hypostyle prayer hall stretched nine columns deep. Also, there was a spiral minaret evoking the ancient ziggurat. It served more as an icon than as an acoustic device.


The Great Mosque of Samarra

 In the first two centuries of Islamic design, they tried to design in a geometric order for cities, palaces and mosques but Arab Islamic cities developed through a dense snarl of covered markets and packed courtyard houses, sometimes interrupted by monumental religious complexes.