X Restaurant

When design offers answers it gives us something we already know – whether it is programmatic, aesthetic, or cultural. However, when design poses a question, it creates a dialogue, an oscillation of readings that forces us to experience and digest something new. X Restaurant is a space of diagolues that intend to ask questions rather than offer answers. The questions asked were: the established versus the innovative; the habitual versus the experimental; the whole versus its parts; materials versus their function; and finally, the city versus one of its many spaces. A desire to create a contrast with the given context, the rooftop of an art-nouveau building on Istanbul’s Golden Horn, became our first clue. The site overlooks the ancient heart of the city shaped by undulating hills on which a dense urban fabric and water lie. Its prowess maintains tremendous amounts of cultural commodities, such as status and idenity, which are held up by the very aesthetic that the building on the site exemplifies. Established norms and the habitual in aesthetic perception control our lives. The intention was to introduce and experiment with unconventional elements in the design. We began by asking, how do we receive a space defined by the non-orthagonal. If we do not use right angles, then where do we begin? The design process led to the use of dominating and multi-triangular forms that seek to obstruct this well-rooted, seemingly harmonic tradition. These forms collaborate at all scales. Individually they may be perceived as hostile and obstructive to a sense of comfort. However, when bound together within a consistent formal language, they produce an amicable environment. The patterns created by the random configuration of the tiles and the undulating triangular ceiling panels are decisive elements. When associated with traditional function, they find radically new meaning against the city of Istanbul. Although Istanbul is filled with various models of traditional architectural histories, the dynamic urban fabric and chaos are in constant contrast to these structures. X restaurant, as such, mimics this vibrance and chaos. The image of the city is brought into the restaurant by way of an all glass facade and then is bounced off the highy reflective interior walls of the space. A new dialogue develops between reality and obscurity creating a romance of imagery. Respectively, the seagulls that cross the horizon, the undulating hills, the glow of the Golden Horn, are all inscribed in the elements of the restaurant creating an interesting symbolism. The dialogue between the whole and its parts also offer two different readings which occur simultaneously; there is an oscillation between hard geometric elements and a soft passive body which not only reflects the city but also the thing we all seek. The final process of the project was to name the restaurant. This was simple and immediate: within the details that we confront we find the unknown element which we call “X”. Within the liminal spaces of what we know and what challenges us, it offers the greatest experience and opportunity for change. The reception of X Restaurant brought to surface this dialogue that we were seeking.

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Building Activity

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