METU Student Center || Suyabatmaz Demirel Architects

Dear Diary,

In treating the design of the anticipated Student Center and the METU campus square together with their immediate surroundings, the fundamental decision taken for the project was to efface the boundary that would form between them. The building would thus blend into the square, the square into the landscape, and all the places and spaces into the METU campus; they would become a new part of METU, whose campus was designed to be sustainable. Within this context, every stage of the designing process was dealt with according to its own potentials and this was the method used in reaching the whole. Thanks to this, the conception that emerged is a fluid one into which the users can blend as well. Through this approach, the project becomes an interface in which definite boundaries are eliminated.

master plan
Master Plan | Courtesy of Suyabatmaz Demirel Architects

The building establishes a relationship with its location and its essential state is determined by the references it draws from its location and surroundings. When establishing the spatial organization inside, at the same time, exterior spaces are produced in which many vistas take shape and which enable possibilities for alternative spaces.

The part of the building located on the slope east of the project area was treated with an approach that would establish the relationship of elevations on the site. The performance hall, activity amphitheaters, and some of the study halls located in this section were fragmented vertically through a relation in which a variety of experiences could be imparted. The building stratifies its relationship with the landscape and redefines spatial relations in terms of interior and exterior space. These approaches, which nourish each other, have made possible the creation of perceptual richness and prevented spaces from being defined solely by their area in square meters. Each space acquired an area next to it in which different experiences are enjoyed. This web of relations that was created rivets the building to its setting and increases the possibilities for student use. Thanks to this, the building is no longer a shell that simply enables the functions requested, and through the relations it establishes between interior and exterior space it becomes part and parcel of METU.

The relation established with the existing sports center was treated in an extremely sensitive fashion with an approach similar to a male-female connection. The building’s configuration on the side looking onto the sports center was formed with reference to this building. The relation established thanks to this configuration is perceived differently from each point. When a person walking between the two buildings approaches either, he or she sees the relation the one establishes with the other and this perception indirectly changes as the person changes place. This design approach reinforces the presence of the sports center building and becomes a part of the vistas the perception of which it enriches. From now on the sports center building will be perceived together with the student center and will be re-seen from the student center through new framing in a way it had never been seen before.

Diagramm | Courtesy of Suyabatmaz Demirel Architects

On the side facing the square, the building rises and describes a space beneath it; the main entrance and the entrances for student clubs provided at this level nourish the square and increase possibilities for use. The club offices and classrooms used actively by students were designed on the side facing the square and positioned so as to command a view of the entire campus. At the same time this building stratifies the square through the viewing terrace at its top.

The boundaries of the project area intersect with many different sides and importance was given to a layout that would efface these boundaries; this decision was a determinant factor in the choice of the load-bearing system. In its approach to the load-bearing system, the building establishes a relationship with the surroundings on every side. While on the side facing the square the building is supported by steel beams that run the whole length of the story so as to interrupt the relation of the building to the square, at the rear, the side that is in contact with the trees yields to numerous delicate posts like roots of trees.

source Suyabatmaz Demirel Architects


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