Architecture – Do we learn more from our successes or our mistakes? Instead of showcasing brilliant case histories, Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş, co-founders of architecture studio SO? and curators of the Turkish Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2023, focused on the country’s many abandoned and neglected buildings and unsuccessful real estate projects.
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Instead of letting them rot, the curators believe that “these hollow containers can teach many lessons as well as become an opportunity and an asset for a better future.” Bayrak and Göktaş told Archipanic. “They are true Laboratories for the Future.”
Photos of abandoned buildings are projected on fabrics hanging from the ceiling. Below, on a bench at the centre of the space, visitors can discover the reasons behind the abandonments. A complimentary film showcases potential ways in which the buildings can be reused.
“Since construction in Türkiye is triggered by economic growth rather than spatial needs, we have a huge variety of unused buildings, from hospitals to airports.” Explained Bayrak and Göktaş. “As we were preparing this project, two huge earthquakes struck south-eastern Türkiye, causing massive damage.”
“In a country with an enormous building stock that has to be reinforced to resist earthquakes – since it is not possible to rebuild them all – we need to find ways to transform the existing and introduce novel tools and methods to nurture our collective dreams and discussions.
The empty buildings on display range from partially or completely empty skyscrapers to luxury apartments, hotels, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and recreational facilities.
Using AI as a tool, trained in their architectural vocabulary, Bayrak and Göktaş have realised new hopeful visions for each uninhabited building, showing how people can repopulate and repurpose these spaces for the benefit of the community.
All photos of the Turkish Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 are by Rachele Maistrello and Fatih Yilmaz, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia.