Emre Arolat Architecture Takes the Museum Hotel in Southern Turkey Back to the Future
Emre Arolat has always been intrigued by architecture’s potential to “integrate, overlay, and absorb” the traces of history on a given site. The co-founder, with Gonca Pasolar, of Emre Arolat Architecture, which has countless historical-renovation and hospitality projects in its portfolio, as well as a RIBA International Prize and an Aga Kahn Award for Architecture to its credit, has rarely had an opportunity to throw together past and present as dramatically as he did in the Museum Hotel in Antakya, Turkey, however.
The facility suspends a boxy 199-room luxury hotel over a sprawling 370,000-square-foot archaeological-dig-turned-museum that spans 13 civilizations and includes several dazzling Roman-era mosaics. “I was fascinated by the memories stored in that endless-looking landscape of remnants,” says the architect, whose Istanbul office (he also has outposts in London and New York) designed both the hotel and the museum. “In this case, I had the privilege to literally make the layers visible to the beholder’s eye.”
“The remains shaped every aspect of the design.”
The project began when initial excavations on the site for a Hilton hotel turned up an exquisite 2nd-century marble statuette of Eros. Instead of scrapping the project or forging ahead with construction, as many builders do in relic-laden Antakya—a modern city near the Syrian border built on top of more than two millenniums of history—local investor Necmi Asfuroglu decided to launch a more massive excavation that soon began to yield more extraordinary finds. The next year, he engaged EAA to bring together two rarely integrated functions, a museum (fittingly the Necmi Asfuroglu Archaeology Museum) and a hotel (the former financially enabled by the latter).
The remains shaped every aspect of the design. Holes for 66 steel-composite columns that form the superstructure of the modular design were hand-dug wherever an open spot could be found, with the structural system redesigned each time a new mosaic popped up. Prefabricated plastered laminate modules were lifted in (one to three per guest room) and linked with open-air bridges and walkways because heavy machinery could not be used on-site. The dialogue between past and present was key conceptually, too. “There’s an objet trouvé character to it,” Arolat says. “The presence of the architectural space helps the artifacts develop a special aura, like a jewel.”
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Project Team: Nodus Engineering: Structural Engineer. Promet: Stonework. ASF Hotel & Tourism: General Contractor.
Product Sources: Kartela-Designo Contracts: Wallpaper (Guest Room). Alya Ticaret through Sofaline: Leather Paneling. Bahar Aydinlatma: Pendant Fixtures, Table Lamp. Barem: LEDs. Kettal: Sofas (Lobby). Lunica Through IKS Distic.: Cocktail Tables. Global Warehouse: Chairs. Throughout: Lotus: Laminate Cladding. ECA through Yeni Ocak Yapi: Sink Fittings. Jotun: Girders, Metallic Paint, Composite Columns, Roof Cladding. Reynaers; Sisecam through Nasakoma: Glazing, Aluminum Cladding.