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Form then Function: Piazza Urfa




Piazza Urfa 2

The city of Saniufura, Turkey dates back millennia. Now enters Piazza Urfa—a luxe shopping experience.

Piazza Urfa is one of the first contemporary retail centers in the region and represents a growing demand for modernity in developing countries across the globe. Hollywood-based design firm 5+ Design accepted the daunting task of designing and creating the building and wrestled with the challenge of reconciling the juxtaposition of ancient and modern in such a historic site.

Unlike more cosmopolitan centers in the East, Saniufura is known for its historic ruins and archeological significance. It still bears hallmarks of its Neolithic roots, with some of the population residing in houses built into the surrounding rock. Development of the city’s newer districts and the introduction of modern amenities into the urban landscape has provided a stark contrast between ancient and modern—highlighting the idea that development and progress do not require the abandonment of tradition and culture.

The challenge of unifying culture and retail

Piazza Urfa 7

The aim of the design is to respect and make reference to the city’s history by creating a culturally informed and contextually relevant modern architectural language

5+ Design partner Michael Ellis

In addition to the specific regional challenges faced by designers like the team at 5+, the dynamism of global markets, coupled with the proliferation of online shopping, has dramatically impacted the traditional brick-and mortar-retail business and exacerbated the need to create a space that draws people in. In contrast to the U.S., which separated residential and commercial buildings in the 1980s, international architecture has historically embraced mixed-use properties, which unify retailers and the communities they serve.

Piazza Urfa 5Faced with the unfriendliness of stand-alone commercial centers, coupled with the propagation of Internet shopping, U.S. designers are now embracing the benefits of incorporating mixed-use properties into the cosmopolitan landscape—namely, ambiance.

5+ Design has developed a stylistic strategy that marries indigenous materials with contemporary functionality, creating an aesthetic that contextualizes a region’s history and culture with the evolution of its people. The design process becomes a sophisticated exercise in balancing the delicate and established counterpoints of cultures rich with tradition but desperate for progress.

The design process ultimately becomes a conversation about shaping the collective cultural experience of a region through the language of architecture and design.

 

This is a very unique shopping center. We incorporated features that come natural to the Sanliurfa [local residents] and used local materials for the interior and exterior of the project. We also designed Piazza Urfa to offer the latest in entertainment options, top retail, completely unique restaurants and dining, and the project is expected to meet that call for Turkey’s economic growth.

5+ Design partner Michael Ellis

Ellis reiterated that the goal of the design was not to create an iconic city landmark, nor an out-of-place edifice, but rather to create a subdued, linear building that is fresh and new but belongs and is easy to enjoy. Design elements such as layers of walls, arcades, and canopies were strategically incorporated, with the intent of creating an architectural dialogue between contemporary and ancient styles.

It’s not just about shopping

Piazza Urfa 6Unlike the sentiment behind the art installation known as “Prada Marfa,” which critiques the rampant spread of consumerism and the luxury goods market, the emotions that surround developments such as Piazza Urfa are overwhelmingly positive.

Like developments in many emerging countries, centers like Piazza Urfa contribute culturally and represent a space to socialize outside of traditional gathering points. Rich with food and vitality, these developments draw in the young and old alike. They are places to meet, socialize and promenade. As development in emerging countries continues, the words of Winston Churchill retain their significance:

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

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