LocationYeşilova Höyük, Karacaoğlan Mahallesi 6253 Sk. No: 15, Bornova, İzmir / Turkey
Lead ArchitectsEvren Başbuğ
Design TeamEvren Başbuğ (Lead Architect, Principal Designer / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Umut Başbuğ (Lead Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Seden Cinasal Avcı (Lead Architect / SCRA Architects). Ramazan Avcı (Lead Architect / SCRA Architects). Hüseyin Komşuoğlu (Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Tuba Tuncalı (Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Dilşad Kurtoğlu (Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Can Özcan (Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Müğe Bilgi Başbuğ (Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Özcan Kaygısız (Architect / STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects). Mesut Dural (Architect / SCRA Architects). Gamze Kahya (Architect / SCRA Architects). Suzan Bahtiyar (Architect / SCRA Architects)
ClientsBornova Municipality (İzmir / Turkey)
In terms of its observable geometric form, Yeşilova Höyük is not in the ordinary form of a ‘höyük’ that can be found in vast numbers throughout Anatolian landscape. Since it is located on Bornova plain which is mainly a huge silt deposit, the tumulus seemed to be buried completely underground and therefore it was very hard to identify the settlement from outside. Höyük was discovered by chance in 2003 and archaeological excavations began in 2005 first under the patronage of first İzmir Archaeology Museum and then Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ege University. The settlement dates back to early neolithic period (6.500 BC) and it is the oldest one discovered in the whole region.
The idea to build a visitor center on the adjacent plot which will at the same time accommodate the excavation laboratories was undoubtedly a foresighted vision of the local government and it was one of the most influential cultural investments in the city. The design of the facility was acquired by a national architectural competition which was held in 2010. A partnership of young architects (STUDIO EVREN BAŞBUĞ Architects + SCRA Architects) have won the competition and they were commissioned by the municipality for the design and the shop drawings. The construction was completed and the building was opened for public use in early 2015.
Settled in the adjacent plot along the northwest - southeast border of the Yesilova Höyük archaeological excavation site, the facility intends to create a spatial interface between 6.500 BCE and the present time with its form, alignment, and materials. It generates an unexpected cultural focus within the urban context through an intricate architectural program which is composed of artifact exhibition, active education, and scientific research.
Three main functions (Museum, Archaeological Laboratory and General Services) which are spatially linked to each other, generate the integrated linear building blocks (155m long in total) with different sizes that give the building its form. The museum block in the middle is the widest (13m cross-section span) and highest (13.5m to the top ridge) of the three. The ground floor serves as a connector between different functions of the visitor center such as the reception hall, the archaeological laboratories, a cafeteria, an activity center, several media rooms, and a conference room for 100 people. The first floor is completely dedicated to the exhibitions and a (40m long) ramp connects this level with the reception area. There is also a mezzanine level in the exhibition space which was planned to be used as a library in the future.
Archaeological laboratories with all the required services (lecture room, workshop, archive, kitchen and dormitories) are in the relatively smaller block in the north. This block is both visually and functionally connected to the adjacent open courtyard, which serves as an outdoor working space for the archeologists in summer time.
The viewing terrace was designed to be an extension of the main exhibition level stretching out towards the excavation site finalizing the tour of the visitor with the real encounter. The concrete torch is designed both as a vertical element balancing the highly linear scheme and as a visual indicator of the neolithic era with real fire lighted up on special occasions.
A simulation of a small village representing the real ancient settlement was planned outside next to the courtyard serving as a scene for the ‘time travel’ activity. Here children learn how to harvest, hunt, cook, and perform daily practices in a pre-scheduled 1 hour program.
The plot is 18.080 sqm in total (excavation site not included), and the building has a total construction area of 5.120 sqm.
Materials, Construction and Technology
The building complex is basically a steel structure formed by repeating identical H frames sitting on a concrete basement floor. These steel frames are enveloped on the outside with modern materials (glass fiber reinforced concrete panels and multi-layered polycarbonate sheets) but are exposed visually inside. This character is mainly a structural reference to the construction system of the neolithic era. The foundations discovered on the site reveal that the ancient houses were constructed over Masonry foundations by using wooden structural frames which are exposed visually inside but clad by mudbrick walls and clay surfaces outside.
The tension generated by the unique location and architectural program of the facility is sustained at all levels by means of the architectural decisions and choice of materials. The architectural program in the form of integrated linear blocks have been enveloped between two surfaces of different characteristics on two sides: The southwestern opaque façade (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete Panels) which greets and welcomes the approaching visitor, and the northeastern translucent façade (Multi-Layered Polycarbonate Sheets) which gives the visitor hints about the archaeological excavation site on the adjacent plot outside. The red colour on the GRC panels is a clear reference to the most commonly used colour on the household items belonging to the neolithic era.
The decision of using materials that performing in contrast to one another, also creates an ideal situation in terms of the building’s climatic orientation and illumination performance: An impermeable, protective shield against the sun path, and a translucent membrane allowing diffused natural light in the exhibition space.