The city of Muğla’s development policy aims at freeing the town from being a city catering only to summer tourism, and making better use of its natural, cultural, historical and other potential assets. The Muğla city center seeks especially to free the city from being overshadowed by other popular districts like Bodrum, Marmaris or Fethiye, and to have its own original identity acknowledged so as to be able to yield all the advantages that go with it. With this in mind, and in order to increase the city’s commercial activity as well as give it more visibility, the creation of a fair compound was envisaged, with the contribution of the Muğla Chamber of Commerce and other fund providers.
In this context, the answers to two important questions relative to the location and the choice of the plot of land to be used would play a crucial role in the shaping of the project. The first question was: Considering the existing commercial potential Muğla and the Aegean region and the city’s vicinity with Izmir, probably Turkey’s most nostalgic and experienced city in terms of fairs, how useful for the city would the building of a complex destined to serve uniquely as a fair be? The second question was: What plot of land to assign to the fair and how adequate would it be for traditional fair premises?
It was finally decided that the Muğla City Platform and Fair Center project would be situated at the entrance of the province of Muğla, cradle of civilizations, in the Menteşe area, at the very end of the Akçaova valley, some 4 km. from the city center. The plot of land considered for the project covers a mountainous and escarped area of 82.000 square meters, which is covered with some 10.000 trees according to the estimation of the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry. There is a 42 m. difference in elevation between its highest and lowest point. The top of the terrain offers a breath taking view of the whole valley of Akçaova. It is also the last vista faced by the some 40.000 vehicles that drive everyday into Muğla before they enter the city.
The physical nature of the terrain makes the construction of a conventional fair center practically impossible. With such intense tree coverage and a 10-15% slope, creating large esplanades would be costly due to the necessary leveling works, and involve a huge decimation of trees. Consequently, any project conducted with a conventional understanding would endanger the survival of the pinon pines woodland, and thus be very damaging to the area’s natural equilibrium and ecosystem. This would go against Muğla’s traditional concern for nature’s protection, a concern which is part and parcel of its identity.
Considered from the point of view of functionality, building a single function complex in Muğla would clearly mean that it would be used 30-50 days a year and remain idle for the rest of the year. This meant that the project required a different approach both in terms of the terrain chosen and the use to be made of it. Designed at an important point of the city, on the skirts of Mount Menteşe, and offering a grandiose view of the akçaova valley, with its unique natural landscape, while facing the people entering the city, the compound should serve as a new public space for the people of Muğla.
With this in mind, the fair compound project was turned into an outwards looking and multi-functional architectural discourse. And in order to bring this wide space to life, the concept of a city platform was created, with its open spaces and recreational premises. This required that the project be prepared with a special care given to the involvement of the public. No such concept had been implemented in Muğla before, one that united external and internal features while providing city dwellers with a place to meet and gather, which could also respond to other social needs.
People will be able to access and move around the platform by car as well as on foot. In accordance to the terrain and available climactic data, the higher esplanade (situated +682,00) will constitute the multi-purpose public area, while at the lower level (+676,00) meeting points, restaurants and shops will ensure a permanent social life. The Fair center and its functional offices will be placed at this level, facing the inner garden of the building. The rest of the terrain will constitute the city park, mostly kept in its natural configuration.
With its location and the advantages of its terrain, the project aims to create a reference point while providing the most economical solution. It is also to act as a protest statement against the widespread current vandalistic construction mentality while greeting quietly but with open arms all those who approach the city. Serenity will prevail not only at given points, but everywhere, at the center, in the surrounding environment around, below or above the compound. With only 400 trees being displaced, the city platform and its related city park were conceived as a sustainable project, with a bare elegance, in harmony rather than in competition with nature. In each of its aspects the project aims to represent Muğla in the best possible way and, beyond answering the city dwellers needs, to create a valid pretext for them to visit it.
Architectural Office: TeamFores Client: Mugla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, GEKA, Mugla Special Provincial Administration Design Team: Serter Karataban (founder), Berke Debensason, Ayşe Kimyacıoğlu, Beril Elmas Brangar, İpek Baycan Glaister, İrem Poyraz, Doğukan Koç, Oğuzhan Özler Project Type: Fair and Exhibition Center Location: Mugla Project Date: 2012 Building Size: 18,420 sqm