Kadikoy Public Park Facilities


Location: Istanbul / Turkey 

Architectural Project & Design: Gokhan Avcioglu & GAD

Project Team: Oguz Cankan, Aslı Sener Icinsel, Secil Vanci 

Building Type: Public

Construction Area: 176 m2

Project Site Area: 350 m2

Year: 1997

Status: Built
1998 & 2004 The Kadikoy Public Park Facilities project was short-listed for consideration, Aga Khan Award for Architecture
1997 Turkish Architecture Prize for the design of the Kadikoy Public Park Facilities project in Istanbul


Kadikoy as it stands today is a bustling seaport. The main arteries connecting the Asian and European sides fans out from the Kadikoy urban square. It also houses the Haydarpasha Central Train station which connects Istanbul to Anatolia and the Middle East. Sites are primarily the generaters of building geometries. A place for purification was intended. During the Hellenistic, Roman, Seljuck and Ottoman periods, public baths were generators of social activities within the city culture. Especially in the times when the city culture and the level of civilization reached their peak administrations and architects realised there were projects of great importance. The former restrooms at Kadiköy Park Urban Square were above the surface and cretaed visual, healthy and functional problems. After talks with the Municipality and the former owner of the deteriorating restrooms, the municipality agreed to hand responsibility of new, project to the owner of the restrooms. The financial contributor as well as the contractor of the project comissioned GAD as designers and concept leaders of the new underground public restrooms and the surrounding park area. As a first step GAD conceived restrooms that would nestle underground without disturbing the appearance of the site.

During the management of the project, different parts were tendered to sub-contractors. The stainless steel doors and the restroom cabins were made by door makers. The concrete structure was poured with the help of qualified workers, etc. The presence of the Mosque, the old municipality building and the underground public restrooms together form the surrounding site. Although their architectural vocabulary is not similar, they form a complex within the heart of the Kadiköy urban square.  During the Ottoman period, washing and purifying spaces were built besides administrative and religious complexes, shaping the urban grain of the city. Today the Kadiköy underground restrooms play the role of its predecessors of present Istanbul. The Kadikoy park project and the underground restrooms originate from the habits and formations that already exist in the environment and tries to rehabilitate and clarify them. The main goal of the project is to convert a trivial passing way into a place of uplifiting memories. The core of the concept was to turn "upside down" the dome of an early Ottoman period building type hamam (turkish public bath) and place it over a cube volume carved into the ground.

Strong and sterile materials were chosen as a response to both vandalism and the sanitary demands of the underground facilities. The customs of building for such functions were reconsidered all through the building process and intricate structural details were conceived for each particular point of the design. As with all buildings in public use, vandalism is a main cause of concern for owners as well as architects. Not suprisingly the men’s restrooms are where vandalism is most. During the concept development and later during the construction, building tectonics were thriving elements for the project team. The transition between the black granite flooring and the varnished block concrete walls were achieved by placing a strip of white pebbles along the side of the wall. Such tectonics were not only merely conceived for visual aesthetics but as well as for practical and sanitary uses.
The exigencies of the structural span length, lighting, lateral loading, ceiling height and daylight angles influenced the shape of the roof structure. Although the underground restrooms have a rigid and heavy concrete structure; transparency is achieved with two sided mirror installations. The facilities of the underground restrooms are either accessed through the womens staircase or the mens' and disabled ramp entrance. The underground functions are installed within a square whereas the pedestrians read the underground restroom’s geometry as a circule. The glazed ring wraping the upper half of the serves as a rotational role for the pedestrians as well as to the visitors. The contradiction and the ingeniousity of the structure leaves the visitors amazed.

In Anatolian mythology, grottos are usually watery and are associated with lunar goddesses, nymphs, prophecy, birth and a passage through subterranean realms of rebirth. They suggest the invisible, but often audible, flowing of water inside the earth and the sudden suprising appearances of springs. The insertion of opaque glazing and blocks cut (especially in the lobby area where the curtain wall meets with the concave concrete saucer) within the curtain wall structure of the underground restrooms reinforces the idea, that cave can hide secrets. The underground restrooms are placed under a concrete saucer covered by a bamboo and pebble garden. The concave shaped roof lets ample daylight to the facilities during daytime. At night the radiating light from the inside forms a glimmering ring to the surrounding garden area. Thus an exceptional interaction is achieved between light and the interior spaces.