Analysis of English Language Preparatory School of METU

There is something that I want to share with you guys. The research paper (not that much formal) I have prepared after our trip to METU campus and exploratory on the library of TMMOB (UCTEA- Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects).

Here it is.

A brief story of the building and architect

English preparatory school annexes of METU                Photo by İlayda GENÇ

Diyarbakır born(1963) architect Boran Ekinci who has graduated from METU Department of Architecture in 1987, is one of the leading names in his field, in Turkey. Even though he did not had a chance to practice and work enough as an apprentice he succeeded to get ahead. He started his career with a 2 weeks experience in Ekinciler Construction and Trade Company and next in Mimtaş.  Later on with the partnership of his schoolfellow Hakan Dalokay his career started to take its real shape. They founded “Dalokay-Ekinci Company of Architecture” in Istanbul.  After this ephemeral experience he established his own company “Boran Ekinci Architecture” in Ankara. Afterwards he moved the company to Istanbul and still pursues his works in this office.

In 2004, the project of METU Preparatory School Annexes was given to Boran Ekinci by METU Development Foundation.  It was a project designed to be an education building. The steel-concrete construction is one of the most significant example of its kinds in the matter of “wall architecture” and the method used for bringing steel and concrete together.

As a METU graduate it must be such a nice excitement and practice to rise up a building of his own design in the campus that he spent his years of university. However, there is no doubt that the reason makes him the project owner is not because he was a METU student but the great idea he came up with and his previous successful projects brought into life in the same campus, again. Of course it is incontrovertible that his ability of erecting buildings with low prices and high qualities has a great effect, too.

Deep into the design qualities of the building

Annex Building of English Language Preparatory School of METU sets a good example showing the accordance of concrete and steel and has a very unique static structure. The system which emphasizes the importance of steel and exposes the collaboration of concrete has a very original and characteristic place among the other examples of its kind. The two storied building is a combination of steel prisms between the planar layers of concrete. The whole complex
has a linear attribute in general and as a result of its property of being spread onto the ground.  It is very clear from any aspect of the building that the architect works with the orthogonal positioning of the elements which results in verticality and horizontality to be considered as a design tool.

IMG_6205What makes the building worth receiving a prize is not only its architectural character, but efficiently implemented “heat insulation” techniques. Just like in the quotation of Le Corbusier “A house is a machine to live in”, architecture of METU Prep School Annexes is shaped by the needs and intentions of the building. The 15 cm gap left used for installation and prevents walls to be overcooled between the steel carcase and exterior wall is a great example to say that the design decision is hugely directed by the idea ”form follows function” additionally ‘it is also possible to exploit this gap for the electrical and mechanical shafts’.*

As expected from a proponent of modern architecture, Boran Ekinci offers simplicity alongside the functionality of the building. It is visible that façade of the prep school building is far from all unnecessary ornamentations. Simplicity is provided with the naked concrete walls and straight surfaces. Nonetheless this should not belie you and make you think that it is just the erection of prisms next to each other.  The building was  designed to be open to its surroundings with the large windows covering whole front and back facades. Withal, the holes on the huge concrete plates ensure the relation between the structure and nature around it.

IMG_6201Since the building has free standing walls which seem apart from the main structure and its function -which is not true-, “wall architecture” starts to become a significant manner to touch upon.  Certainly they are the most eye-catching components of the structure with giant holes in the middle of the remaining parts of the concrete walls. The texture of uncovered and naked concrete stones gives the sense of a more simple and natural construction.  This claims that the architect is highly affected by the movement called “Brutalism”.

Here is another point to be discussed. Differentiation in the proportions and dimensions of these holes ends up with a great number of variations which takes the concrete plates away from being disturbing pieces and gives the sense of more stirring elements. Some sort of repetitions in the sizes of these holes and also repeating measures of windows gives regularity to this variety.

DSC_1027Photo by Dilara Özlü

 One another quality of the Prep school additional building is the way of using transparency. Windows covering the front face is a big opportunity to make the relation stronger between the inner space and outer space and the holes play a different role in this point by supporting the relation between the partitions on the outer area of the structure. In other words it is possible to see the courtyard on the front side from the car park. (As it can be seen in the second image above)

image i: location plan

One final thing that I want to discourse is the places defined by the concrete walls. The walking path, the empty area at the backyard of this METU building and more are actually some defined areas by spaces occurred between corresponding two concrete walls. It is possible to calim this for the entrance doors of the building. All the entrances are defined with one single plane which is placed orthogonal to the wall that the doors belong to. The space between the walls and these planes is defining an area for the entries.

If we look at to the building from the above, it is possible to see almost all of the properties for the whole construct mentioned for some chosen parts of the building. Repetition of steel block with different dimensions leads to variation and line looking plates from the above shows how dominant the concern of verticality and horizontality.

Comparison with the other buildings in METU

If we start to make a comparison with the building of Department of Architecture, first thing to be said is how they are placed onto the area that they are located.  Even if they both are more like horizontal structures, the building of Department of Architecture differentiates itself by its fragmented structure.  It can be said that English Language Preparatory School of METU also has a fragmented structure, yet it is more homogenous for the other building. Second, both he the buildings does not have a worry about hiding the structural properties of the materials used. They both use concrete as it is without any ornamentations and coverings so, both are successful examples of the Brutalism movement. Additionally, the way of using large windows is also designed for similar purposes. Texture plays a momentous role for both the structures. Interior walls of the building of Department of Architecture have a number of samples of textured wall surfaces which creates a variety and allocates the areas for dissimilar usages.


Next, the Research and Implementation Center for Built Environment and Design (RICBED) of METU is another structure that hosts similar context with different approaches. The functionality of the structure is considered on the foreground.  All the installation and electric systems are evident for the aim of presenting a language of the functionality that the structure should have. Unlike the Prep school building, effects of Brutalism mostly show itself on the usage of materials not the walls. Texture is again one of the properties in common. Like almost all the structures located in METU campus and prep school building, RICBED building has the feature of being a linear complex.  Vertical and horizontal elements are used notably all around both structures. Last point to refer is the similarity of the materials. They both make use of concrete and steel.

Comparison with the other works of Boran Ekinci

The Lake House (Göl Evi) is an example of single prism structures opposite to the fragmented feature of METU Prep School. Both the structures have a strong horizontality in general. This property which leads both two buildings to be low rise, does not interrupts the nature and makes it open for the relations which were fell into abeyance as a consequence of enclosed sides. Similarly to the Prep School Additional Building, Lake House is almost fully transparent on one side and closed from the other sides provided by the covering of massive wood.  Unlike the Prep school Building, Lake House is more like a suspended sculpture. Level difference between the floor and ground reminds the Domino House of Le Corbusier.

“AR-GE” building of METU is another structure erected by Boran Ekinci in the same campus. The building uses the potentials of the light and weather conditions with the help of its simple, rectangular shaped facades. We can allege that the functions of the building have a very substantial effect on the architecture like in the English Language Preparatory School of METU. Their one another quality in common is the way that transparency is provided. Both the structures use large windows covering at least the whole one side of the building. Further, the variation contributed by the change in the size of the holes on the Preparatory Building is presented with the different measurement of the grid panels in this one.

Another product of Boran Ekinci that I want to mention is the Dubai MU010 office building. The project owns a number of differences than the two storied METU building. The horizontality that we have examined so far is broken this time. dubai mu010There is a more circular and spherical design.  On the contrary the architect still takes advantage of vertical and horizontal elements on the shell o
verlapping the whole arrangement. Changing proportions of every layer (floor) and the patterns formed by hatched pieces allow the variety. Design matters of the project are also disparate from the one of Prep School Annexes. Art-deco starts to be a matter of concern this time and it ends up with an “onion like” (how the architect calls his work) shaped geometrical structure. Besides, this time Ekinci works with an entirely transparent construction which brings out a dramatic increase in the relation with the outside.

NOTE: (Photos with no comment in the form “photo taken by…” are taken by me.)


Image iii, iv, v, vi, vii :


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