Ecotone occupies a transitional space between education and industry, forming part of the Yıldız Teknopark campus of Yıldız Technical University in Istanbul. Located between two buildings, the textile academy and a teaching block, its programme encompasses education, flexible co-working space, and meeting areas. The hybrid space is part of a campus designed with the intention to spark innovation and the development of new technologies.
The building aims to achieve, through a simple structure, a new fundamental relationship between roof and slab. Echoing Laugier’s Primitive Hut, the design composes a simple column arrangement with roof placed on top, whilst considering its location in a high wind and earthquake risk zone. As the site doesn’t allow for foundations, the structure must be self supporting; to achieve this the delicate columns expand at their ground and roof connections to support side loads. The structure uses a steel mainframe and timber sub-frames, clad in laminated timber with steel connectors. The tubular columns employ an innovative fabrication technology similar to that used in petrol tank design, perhaps used for the first time in architecture. The slender columns, reminiscent of stalagmites or stalactites, seep into the roof, which appears to melt from sky to ground as its height varies across the campus.
Evolving during the global coronavirus pandemic, Ecotone proposes a new exemplar for pandemic resistant and sustainable office architecture, with the integration of outside areas, planting and protected yet fluid office zones. The project aims to develop a better office environment that prioritises hygiene and safe areas for individual and group working. Open air fingers in the plan layout provide areas that, weather-dependent, can be used as informal meeting zones, avoiding closed group spaces. As well as these outdoor rooms, planting brings green inside the building, and natural ventilation provides clear air flows throughout the interior spaces, without relying on mechanical systems. The building employs passive geothermal heating and cooling, while water both for drainage and cooling passes through the tubular columns from sky to earth.