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ahlat youth centre

Project Type : Competition
Typology : Culture
Location : Bitlis, Turkey
Date : October, 2017
The district of Ahlat, located on the northwest coast of Lake Van, has been a hub for multiple civilizations throughout history, and has always been significant due to its distinctive qualities. While the original establishment of the city remains unknown, Ahlat holds a crucial place in Turkish history. The Seljuk Cupolas and tombs, which still stand today, are significant historical landmarks of the region. Upon examining the area's architectural heritage, the human scale and simplicity present in most structures, despite their varying origins, is remarkable. Presently, Ahlat serves as an open-air museum with low-rise, green residential buildings featuring hipped roofs, as well as historic buildings of similar proportions.

Young people do not merely accept life as presented to them, but rather perceive it in their own way and strive to change it according to their own vision.

Walking amidst a cupola, red stone steps, tombstones, and the surrounding landscape, one is filled with a sense of eternity and tranquility. These observations led to the conclusion that the Youth Centre planned for construction in Ahlat must evoke these same emotions.
Upon examining the construction culture tradition of the Seljuks, who brought their practices from Central Asia to Ahlat, it becomes evident that their building habits were grounded in tents and cupolas, fundamental elements of nomadic societies. The resulting artifacts were shaped by the transformation of tent and cupola typologies, as well as the combination of locally sourced materials. Given this context, it is crucial to reinterpret the structure of the Ahlat Youth Camp by incorporating historical references of tent and cupola imagery. This narrative serves as an attempt to analyze the "life space" that a young person constructs for themselves during this pivotal stage in their life, using a "structural" element to convey the notion that "young people do not merely accept life as presented to them, but rather perceive it in their own way and strive to change it according to their own vision." This analysis has become a template for the planned youth centre project, to be implemented at a later stage in the project process.

site plan

1: storehouse
2: spa

3: residential building

4: auditorium

5: multi-purpose hall

6: recreation facility

7: cafe

8: entrance hall

The primary objective of the design was to ensure uninterrupted access for visitors to every area of the center, with a focus on connecting disparate building blocks and fostering a sense of communal togetherness. The allocation of diverse functions across the site was received favorably, with an emphasis placed on encouraging exploration of the various zones. While it was essential to establish physical connections between different structures, it was equally critical to maintain a visual link with the surrounding hills and bodies of water, enabling a more immersive experience of the locale.

façade detail

first floor plan

In considering the project's placement on the site, particular attention was given to the needs and preferences of the younger demographic, with ample space provided for natural exploration and the discovery of new areas. The use of Ahlat Stone and sloping roofs in the massing of the buildings created a striking contrast that further emphasized the region's distinctive character as the "red city of the east."


east elevation

south elevation

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