Lucien Arkas Art Gallery not far from Izmir: despite natural stone not a monolith, but an open building

Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.

The architects of Artı3 Mimarlık wanted to respect the residential buildings and the natural landscape around them

Art museums or art galleries are usually located in the centers of the big cities. There, they like to adorn themselves with eye-catching architecture that testifies to their importance. This also applies to Turkey. But what do you do if the new location for the art gallery of one of the country’s most important entrepreneurs and patrons is in a sparsely populated residential area, where nature determines the picture?

We are talking about the Lucien Arkas Art Gallery in Kekliktepe, a district of Urla, a city with about 40.000 inhabitants located about 30 km from Izmir. The client for the construction was Lucien Arkas, president of Arkas Holding, a diversified group of companies with transport and logistics at its core.

The architects came from the office Artı3 Mimarlık in Izmir. On their webpage, it says that their building was designed with “simplicity and originality” in mind: at its core, it is about “human perception and environmental communication”.

For planing of the art gallery at this location, this meant breaking down the building masses as much as possible and offering as many entrances as possible from the building into the park around it.

Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.

In fact, the outer skin is a colonnade that runs around the building. The columns are 6 m high and 30 x 40 cm wide – fortunately, the architects resisted the temptation of referring to antiquity with its massive stone columns. It is worth remembering that ancient Smirna with its temples is not far away.

Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.

Many details make the outer walls behind the columns visually continuous: there are windows from floor to roof, and the roof over the colonnade has recesses.

Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.

Finally, the whole building is divided into two halves, on one side the exhibition hall, on the other side the library and in between a sculpture courtyard. This is an open volume behind glass panes, it also accommodates the visitor’s access.

Daylight falls into the interior because the roof is glazed. But this also means that special air conditioning must be created for the respective works of art or books.

Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.

The colonnade around the gallery is specifically designed so that visitors can enjoy the – great – view over the country from here. Various ramps and stairs invite visitors to enter the park around the building and enjoy the sculptures exhibited there.

The fact that the whole ensemble represents a visual unity was not only achieved by the open architecture, but also by the uniform choice of materials. Apart from the glass for the entrance area, only natural stone is concisely visible: it is Aerocream limestone for the columns and the outer walls, marble for the floor in the entrance hall and in the colonnade, granite for the pavements in the park and Urla limestone for the retaining walls there. The Aerocream limestone was supplied by the Turkish company Metamar.

The gallery received an honorable mention at the Architecture Master Prize Awards 2019, was also awarded at the Turgut Cansever International Architecture Awards 2020 and has won several national awards.

A special feature of the construction was that as much as possible was prefabricated and only assembled on site. This applies to the walls made of precast concrete elements, and also to the columns, which have a steel girder inside, to which the natural stone cladding is only affixed by screws.

By the way: The Lucien Arkas Art Gallery should not be confused with the Arkas Art Center in downtown Izmir.

Artı3 Mimarlık (Turkish)

Photos: ZM YASA

Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.Lucien Arkas Art Gallery, Kekliktepe.

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(11.09.2020, USA: 09.11.2020)