[Text as submitted by architect] In 2005, Yenişehir Municipality (central district municipality of Diyarbakır) organized a national architectural competition and Uygur Architects obtained the first place. The competition simply demanded a Municipality building for Yenişehir, which is one of the ditricts of Diyarbakır. Diyarbakir, one of the largest cities of Turkey, is located on the Southeast region of the country. It is famous with its rich cultural and historical background. Even though the ongoing turmoil in the region is disturbing its population, the city keeps its vibrant life. This part of Turkey is culturally and politically more concerned about local impact, and socio-spatial collective practices are quite important.Accordingly, in the competition specifications it was stated that multifunctional spaces would be preferred for public usage. Thus, the absolute concept of municipality should be in close proximity to local communities, and functionaries and facilities should be more visible and accessible to the local citizenry. In this sense, client and the architect approaches were quite compatible about the social value of municipality.
In seven years’ time Yenişehir Municipality had problems about propriety right of the project site, which was found in the city center. In result, the project site had been changed and so the design. A completely different project was designed reconsidering the requirements in the context. The current site is now found in a relatively peripheral region of Yenişehir district. However, because of some bureaucratic issues, urban development and planning projects for the surrounding parcel was undetermined and undefined. Besides, the rights of this surrounding parcel is owned by the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality instead of Yenişehir Municipality. Now a park is found around the Yenişehir Municipality building, however the park was an unexpected development for that parcel.
The main design principle was to enable the municipality building to be used as a “community center” with a humble and welcoming spatial quality while providing transparency and representing participatory democracy to the local citizenry. Functionaries and facilities are positioned at the most accessible locations considering the flow of social relations. Socio-economic sustainability is regarded as a significant tangible response to the climatic constraints and cultural characters of the society. Interpretation of “iwan”(eyvan) to enhance spatial qualities for public usage on the ground floor was the main spatial gesture. In tradition, iwan simply acts as a common semi-outdoor place and it is used in all building typology in this geography, such as houses, mosques, palaces, sanctuaries and many more. Iwan is considered as a landmark of Islamic architecture in near Asia, and is also quite common in Diyarbakır. In Yenişehir Municipality, as a modern interpretation of iwan, a diagonally positioned public area is found on the ground floor.
Especially for the harsh summers of this geography, iwan provides a shaded, cool rest space and generates an accessible introduction to the business of municipality. It is surrounded by multifunctional conference hall and municipality units used by citizens on two sides. However, on one side, iwan opens up to the open area and generates a flow of movement. There is a shallow water pond found in the iwan and it supports the microclimate while enhancing the spatial quality as a visual detail. The void and mass configuration above contributes to airflow and provides a comfortable atmosphere in the dry-hot summers of this geography. On the second floor, as an apparent interpretation of transparent and participatory democracy, the circular glazed council chamber is found. It acts as the focal center of the building. Even though the council chamber has an intimate space formation, it is easily viewed from the circulation areas through the surrounding glass walls. The corridors around are connected to the office rooms for the mayor’s assistants and other officers. A small meeting room and cafeteria is also located in this floor. On the basement floor there is a polyclinic which is open to public and accessed through the courtyard. Besides, by the courtyards sunlight is utilized in order to create a spatial quality on the basement floor.
Material choices are climate conscious and yet vernacular. Equator Marmara marble stone on facades and local basalt stone on floors are the most remarkable materials of the building. Since Diyarbakır city extends across a basalt plateau close to the banks of Dicle River, even in the ancient times basalt stone was used as the main masonry construction element in the region. There are many notable historic structures that were constructed of imposing masonry in black basalt stone. Some are still the most remarkable landmarks of the city. Diyarbakır city walls, which is the world’s second largest city walls, and Ulu Mosque are the most significant ones. Correspondingly, for Yenişehir Municipality Building, basalt usage was considered as an important gesture. Marble has been one of the most principal material for buildings in Anatolia since ancient times. For a municipality building, marble usage gives a native yet modern look and generates a welcoming image. Bush hammered horizontally striped Marmara Equator marbles cover the whole building’s facade with its bright color while reflecting the harsh sunrays, which is the typical of this geography.
The concrete surfaces are left exposed inside, and paired and warmed with matching wood wall panels and suspended ceilings. For interior, except the floors dry construction technique is preferred since it is relatively lightweight and needs low maintenance while being more durable. The structure is made of in-situ reinforced concrete since it is the most economic and optimum solution. By so doing also an employement opportunity was provided for the people around. Diyarbakır Yenişehir Municipality Building is in use since 2016.