Nine Islands Exhibit at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale

Neyran Turan, Assistant Professor of Architecture


Neyran Turan & Mete Sonmez

Project Description

Photograph: Sahir Ugur Eren

Nine Islands examines the under-conceptualized long-span of architectural materiality. From the recalcitrance and the extraction of a particular raw matter from a specific geographic location, to its processing, transportation, and construction into a desired finished effect in a building and to its demolition, waste, and decomposition, the spatial and temporal span of architectural materiality is very wide (geographic) and deep (geological). The project showcases this long-span through nine case studies (nine islands) looking at particularly lavish or widely used nine building materials: certain types of marble, wood, glass, travertine, copper, aluminum, concrete, leather, and plastic.

The exhibition is comprised of nine 40X40X140cm models and nine 180X135cm drawings. The upper part of each island consists of a "Monument," an archetypical building mass that is finished with a specific material. As an opposition to the upper part, the lower part of each island consists of a "Rock," a formless landmass from which the raw matter is extracted (quarry for the marble, tree for the wood, cows for the leather, etc.). The stark contrast between the archetypical forms at the top and the formlessness of the raw resource origins below aims to call attention to the under-conceptualized space in between.  

Similar to the models, each drawing in the exhibition is divided into two parts where each part depicts a different snapshot from the long-span of one of the nine materials. While the upper part of each drawing positions one building material through a particular architectural lens (elevation, section, plan, specification, detail), the lower part depicts a daily life scene from the wider life span of the same material (extraction at the quarry, shipping at the container port, roofing at the construction site, demolition of the building ruin, waste in the ocean, etc.). As the upper drawings depict architectural spaces or specifications as still-lifes with human traces without their actual presence, the lower drawings showcase over-populated human activity in the extraction, production, transportation, construction, demolition or waste site.

In an era where humans are described as geological agents, architecture is both a background and a measure against which the world might be read. Like architecture then, Nine Islands represents the world back to itself.