RMJM designs Turkey’s first LEED-registered project ‘Varyap Meridian’

‘Varyap Meridian’, a new residential and commercial complex by international architectural practice Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall (RMJM), is designed to be the first eco-friendly tower in Istanbul, Turkey.

Currently under construction, the $1 billion high-end mixed-use tower, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) –registered project in Turkey, is developed by Varyap, the real estate and construction arm of Turkey's Varlibas Group International.

The coherent group of buildings are designed to step back from their bases. This arrangement offers the appearance of semi circular curves at the feet of the towers. Three of the buildings also respond to each other by partially enclosing a public plaza between them. All the buildings feature the same cladding, giving an appearance of being dipped in paint. The orange tiles between the recessed glazing gradually become paler, giving more neutral tones to the upper limits of the taller towers, first of blue, and then finally of grey. About 90% of the total area will be left as green space. Landscaped public areas will be featured between the buildings and a substantial amount of basement parking is also constructed. The site will feature an Olympic sized open-air swimming pool.

In developing the project’s ‘environmentally-friendly housing’ concept, the principles of environmental impact and sustainability are accorded major significance. In meeting this goal, detailed analysis of the area’s topographic structure and details such as the direction of the wind, optimal views and sunlight were employed to give the project its fundamental inspiration.

The design attempts to take maximum benefit from sunlight and reduce the negative effects of hot or cold climatic conditions. The facing is a hybrid system formed by glass and ceramic panels. The glass used is light green in colour. While this light-collared glass is effective in reducing the need for artificial cooling, it also allows sunlight to naturally warm interior spaces in winter, reducing the heating burden. The window’s transom feature allows windows to be opened to a certain level and allows occupants to benefit from natural ventilation.

The most important consideration became the issue of situating the buildings in such a way as to gain maximum benefit from the sunlight which, in turn, gave rise to the project’s terracing concept. The buildings are, at times uni-directionally, and at others bi-directionally, raised by means of the terracing. The terracing also functions as a means of natural ventilation for the buildings. The water features employed in the garden landscaping provide cool air drafts that rise up to the buildings’ terraced faces. Furthermore, these terraces comprise a broad horizontal surface area for the collection of rainwater. The area’s landscaping will be shaped by its natural plant cover and topographic structure.

Once complete in 2011, the Varyap Meridian complex is expected to consume 40% less energy and water than an average residential project. This is achieved through the use of solar panels and rainwater collection, among other eco-friendly measures. The first phase construction is set for completion in late 2011. Once complete, the complex will create a new district with an occupier population of about 20,000 people.

Varyap Meridian is also designed to integrate with social areas such as wide lobbies, cafe, fitness centre, sauna, steam bath and changing rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and recreational space. There are nearly 100 commercial units, separated from the blocks by a security wall, that serve all the residents.

The environmentally friendly Varyap Meridian, located in Atashier, slated to become the new financial district and business centre for the country, is the winner of the International Property Award for ‘the best real-estate project’ and ‘the best high-rise building’ in Europe in the 2009 International Property Awards, which is dubbed as ‘The Property Oscars’.

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