The new terminal at Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport in the country’s capital of Baku features interior architecture and experiential design by Autoban. Bearing all the hallmarks of the multidisciplinary studio’s experimental, genre-defying approach, the contemporary interiors overturn airport conventions of cavernous space and impersonal experience.
Taking inspiration from Azerbaijani hospitality, Autoban’s Red Dot award-winning design spans the entirety of the terminal’s passenger spaces, and includes striking custom-made wooden cocoons that create a sense of welcome and discovery, and opportunities to either meet or retreat.
At the terminal, Autoban’s bespoke furnishings and lighting schemes upend airport typologies, opting for tactile natural materials such as wood, stone and textiles, gently and warmly lit. The cocoons – which vary in size and house an array of cafes, kiosks and other amenities – exist at the convergence of architecture and art, creating an inviting, intriguing landscape within the huge transportation hub that challenges expectations of the airport environment.
The studio has also conceived, designed and furnished four lounges exclusively for business class use, extending the best of their hospitality expertise to these premium passengers.
Specially designed for Autoban’s texturally engaging Gaspar restaurant project, this chair’s backrest resembles a handful of madeleine. One of the studio’s archetypical furnishings, based on the material’s curvilinearity, the chair boasts a handful of repeated upholstered elements that are complimented with a simple welded metal profile, which takes their geometry as its guide.
London-based restaurateur Alan Yau’s new Soho restaurant, Babaji applies a contemporary global perspective to traditional Turkish recipes to create an exciting new dining experience. As with Yau’s approach to the menu, Autoban’s design concept for the eatery is inspired by traditional Turkish design, and the materials that have been used within the restaurant showcase Turkey’s artisan culture and almost forgotten craft techniques.
Housed within a late 19th Century historic brick building, the exterior of Babaji is kept simple, blending in with the building façade as well as its lively Soho surroundings. A dominant feature of Babaji’s interior is vivid blue ceramic tiles designed and manufactured by Autoban to cover the entire interior space. The handmade tiles reflect both Turkish style and the dynamism of London’s Soho neighbourhood through their application onto the walls. Traditional Turkish Iznik tiles are also incorporated into the tiled surface, and Iznik patterns are used on soft furnishings.
Autoban designed much of the furniture exclusively for Babaji, with some additional signature pieces from the studio’s existing furniture collection. Although the furniture has a sense of simplicity there is also a richness and attention to detail in each piece, such as the inlaid brass detailing in the wood banquette seating and tabletops. Brass inlays are found in traditional Turkish culture, and Autoban has applied a contemporary dotted design to the Babaji pieces. These inlaid brass patterns have been placed on the back of the banquettes, making this striking design feature visible from the outside of the restaurant.
A concept by the renowned restaurateur Alan Yau, Duck + Rice is a pub with a Chinese kitchen that sits on two levels in London’s Soho. Using a multi-layered approach, Autoban has created a contemporary design that pays homage to the densely decorated Victorian pubs beloved by Londoners while also incorporating carefully composed and reinterpreted Asian influences.
From the glass façade of the exterior to the metal screens dividing diners into cozy booths inside the space, Autoban incorporated abstracted geometric patterns throughout the space. A mix of opaque and transparent glass divided by aluminum strips creates a modern stained glass effect, which results in a play between inside and outside and lends a richly layered, dynamic surface to the exterior. Inside the restaurant, oversized white tiles with striking blue floral motifs cover the walls and are repeated in sections of the ceiling.
Specially-designed and produced by Autoban for The Duck + Rice, the tiles reference China’s renowned pottery traditions and pay tribute to the iconic blue and white porcelain glaze first used during the Tang Dynasty. The technique of mixing cobalt oxide with water to create this vibrant blue hue is the same technique also used to create traditional Turkish İznik tiles, which are further highlighted and backlit by custom aged brass wall lights with a half chrome bulb.
The ground floor is the pub where four glowing copper beer tanks greet visitors at the entrance, referencing the space’s former use as a traditional British pub and show the restaurant’s emphasis on quality lagers, ales and ciders sourced from traditional brewers. The long, marble bar and a mix of high top tables and low seating with a fireplace and booths are warmed by freestanding wood burning stoves.
Located inside the recently developed Bomonti Historic Brewery, Kilimanjaro is a casual restaurant-bar that is an integral part of Bomontiada – the new art, culture and entertainment base of Istanbul. Designed by Autoban, the venue boasts a contemporary social environment inside a historic, industrial building, with careful attention given to its scale and original texture.
While staying true to the factory typology of the space, Autoban has also paid homage to the building’s former use by choosing materials that are relevant to the times while it was still an active production plant – a time when artisan tradition played a collective part within industrial production. Such choice of materials and artisan detailing were also helpful in softening the severity of the industrial atmosphere.
Inside Kilimanjaro, the two main functions – dining area and bar – are arranged as close as possible, almost touching one another at some points, to encourage social interaction and result in an intimate, cozy setting.
With its structural form and massive volume, the curvaceous bar placed at the centre, almost in the manner of an art installation, is the focal point of Kilimanjaro, where dining room seating is organized around it. Exhibiting its load-bearing functions and structural skeleton, the metalwork travelling the entire bar on top allows plenty of room for display, and it is decked out with leafy plants to help break the cold, industrial atmosphere. Due to its relationship with the overall spatial experience, the bar is perceived as a space-within-space, also creating zones for both solitude and gathering within its amorphous form.
Started as a small car rental company, Central wanted to celebrate the success it has achieved over the years with a new office design that would also help motivate the employees for even greater success.
Located in a high-rise building, the new design offered by Autoban lends a contrastingly relaxing atmosphere to the interiors that is achieved by the relaxing level of light and sound as well as the lavish use of natural materials, resulting in a combined positive effect on the employees.
Art Deco-inflected but wholly modern, Pill’s lozenge silhouette and the shadows cast by its domed cage body are highly graphical and full of glamour. Pill lamp was originally made for the richly subdued interiors of the House Hotel Bosphorus and went on to be in the studio’s signature catalogue due to high demand for such decorative lamps that come in different, compact sizes.
Bearing the slogan ‘Comfortable as a hotel, warm as a home’, Republika is a new concept in student accommodation with three branches located in different parts of Istanbul. Designed by Autoban, the residencies lever up the standards of student housing with thoughtfully planned habitable units that provide utmost comfort within compact spaces, as well as the carefully organised relationship of private and public areas.
In the first two branches in Ortaköy and Büyükçekmece, the converted properties boast around 230 rooms and 650 beds each, whereas the purpose-built (also by Autoban) Florya branch accommodates 83 rooms with 188 beds.
Since economy and efficiency are the prime goals, all three projects address the challenge of creating pleasurable living environments with cost-effective and durable materials, and coming up with perfect architectural solutions that make the most of daylight, height and space.
In creating the design concept for Republika, Autoban followed the principles of modernist architecture, designing a repetitive module of simple geometric forms that inscribe across the architecture. The series of modules are made to fit in the existing architectural shell of the first two branches, while the individual module forms the basis of the architecture and their repetitive assembly makes up the entire building in the more recent Florya branch.
Developed by Çarmıklı-Saruhan coorporation, Savoy Ulus is a residential complex that consists of various types of apartments all designed to satisfy different types of living. With its modern architectural style as well as exquisite services and facilities, the project breathes new life to the upscale Ulus area, a hilltop district of Istanbul that is home to many apartment complexes built back in the 80s and 90s.
At the centre of the residential complex is the Savoy Ulus Clubhouse – a joint-use sports and entertainment complex, featuring a lounge area, café, multimedia room, swimming pool, spa rooms, fitness and cardio areas, with interiors designed by Autoban.
The elevation of the site was the main determining factor of the architecture of the building and its unique geometry, which has eventually become part of the landscape. Here, Autoban has created an interior shell that is totally in tune with the architecture. In fact, the building’s unique geometry has guided all the forms and materials used all throughout. The result is a myriad of textures and radial patterns that mimic the geometry of the building.
Launched at Maison et Objet Paris in 2015, Union Collection is a series of furniture that includes a sofa and a bed, with side tables, consoles and a lighting fixture coming soon. While Created by Autoban’s previous furniture collections have been inspired by the studio’s commercial projects, including restaurant and hotel interiors, Union is firmly rooted in the domestic environment with an emphasis on form and creating the utmost comfort. The collection is created using tactile, natural materials, making use of traditional craft techniques alongside modern technology. The striking and unconventional pieces feature curved angles and subtle design details throughout.
In creating the cutting-edge design concept for Nopa, a grill restaurant-bar in Istanbul, Autoban have applied their signature aesthetic by maintaining a unity in architecture, interior and product design as well as engaging indoor and outdoor areas.
Housed on the ground floor of a recently built apartment (also built by Autoban), and opening to a back garden, Nopa is mainly formed by two separate areas (indoor and outdoor) that sit on a long and narrow layout plan. The main concern for the interior has been to stay true to the distinct rectangular shape of the space while enriching it with the use of diverse textural materials in layers. All secondary functions (such as wine storage and liquor bottle shelves behind the bar counter) are embedded into walls to maintain a continuous vertical surface level and a certain form of unity. The building’s front façade features an organized geometrical composition applied in varying layers, which is successfully incorporated also to the interior.
While the indoor vertical surfaces feature varying materials with different functions - black marble and back-lit niches with plate glass covers – these idle and filled up surfaces come together to form a certain richness and break the monotony.
Designed to be an extension of the interior, the outdoor area follows the same design approach with layers of greenery that both bring diversity to the space and highlight the perception of being outdoors. It is a surrounding vertical garden, with a wall waterfall on one side providing a peaceful background sound for diners, and comes out as one of the most significant design element of the project.
Occupying an early 20th century building in the heart of Karaköy, the burgeoning epicenter for the city’s contemporary art and social scene, Gaspar is a two-storey gastro-bar and lounge rolled into one. Proposed by Autoban, the redesign of the property, originally erected to function as a letterpress-printing house, saw a creative and engaging transformation while restoring the building’s original grandeur.
While the exterior is brought to its former glory by fully revealing the original stone façade and reinstalling arched window frames made of iron, the interior design concept of Gaspar is based on 'Cabinet of Curiosities' - an idea flourished in Renaissance Europe during the 16th century. The term describes a collection of types of objects whose categorical boundaries are yet to be defined. As a method of organization, the collected objects are arranged by 'knolling', basically the process of arranging objects in parallel or at 90-degree angles on surfaces.
At Gaspar, overlapping plywood panels, produced in different shades and sizes, and positioned at various levels in a mathematical order, create a second shell in the form of a wooden cube that is placed inside the building. Covering the interior vertically and horizontally, the plywood surfaces create a sense of randomness as well as depth, a perception amplified by the high ceilings.
Doğan Media Group is a Turkish media conglomerate that owns and controls three major newspapers as well as Kanal D and CNN Türk TV networks. Located in a suburban district on the European side of Istanbul and designed by the well-known Turkish architecture practice Tabanlıoğlu Architects, Doğan TV Centre is where the two TV networks operate. The building is given a makeover by Autoban who redesigned the main entrance and lobbies.
Upon entering the building, visitors are greeted by a solid expression of Autoban’s trademark design approach - natural materials with diverse textures used in layers.
Turkish Airlines is Turkey’s national airline, and their CIP lounge serves with a daily capacity of 2000+ people as it is also open to Business Class travellers of other airlines in the Star Alliance.
The briefing for the new CIP Lounge project to replace the old one was ‘to offer Turkish hospitality at its highest in a relaxing and contemporary atmosphere.’
While the main idea was to create a ‘contemporary Turkey experience’, Autoban returned to the concept of 'Kervansaray' – the traditional roadside inns where travellers could rest and recover from the day's journey. The designers also revisited the curvy domes of Istanbul’s mosques, most of them being the century-old works of famous Ottoman architect Sinan the Great, and the unique architecture of the Grand Bazaar.
Borrowing the traditional arcade system for a contemporary purpose, Autoban designed a series of bubble-like portals, which create a substructure within the airport hall. This substructure helps bring the gigantic environment of the airport down to a more human scale and lend warmth to the space. In some areas of the lounge, round openings in the architectural substructure reveal the larger proportions of the terminal.
The 5.2 metre-high spherical pods divide the space into sections, while maintaining open views of the rest of the lounge and providing a sense of continuation. Each one of the pods serve to a specific purpose such as the library, restaurant, tea garden, piano area, screening room, meeting room, kids’ playground or the rest rooms, and starting from the entrance, they are organized in order of the priorities of the passengers’ needs. The interconnected portals allow transitions in between them, and while moving through the spaces, the passengers are encouraged to discover each module with curiosity.
Originally designed for Nopa Restaurant, Nopa series combines comfort with a modern approach. Nopa Chair has a bold presence with its characteristic form and upholstery. The leather upholstered seat is nested in a tubular metal frame creating a refined contrast.
L'ist İstinye Suites is a housing project located in one of the most valuable residential districts of Istanbul's European side, Istinye, with unique views of the Bosphorus. Consisting of 150 suites in 14 blocks, the residential development also features sports and relaxation facilities, including two outdoor and one heated indoor pools as well as a fully-equipped fitness and spa centre.
The correct correlation of location, terrain and landscape, the use of water as a unifying natural element, and a natural material palette make up the unique characteristics of the development, which Autoban took as a reference point and developed a sound design perspective with aspects that convert living spaces into areas of comfort, joy and taste.
Kemer Golf and Country Club is a country retreat situated 25 km from Istanbul in the heart of the Belgrade Forest. The Country Club was originally founded in 1995 to provide its members with a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. While the main attraction for the club has always been the golf course, there are also facilities for horse riding, tennis and other sports as well as a spa and fitness centre. Autoban has seamlessly integrated the new hotel into the existing club facilities by transforming the site of the former clubhouse into the 35-room luxury boutique hotel.
The hotel is situated in a beautiful natural setting, while being in close proximity to Istanbul. Autoban’s design concept conveys a sense of secluded relaxation while also keeping guests connected to their urban lifestyle.
With the Kemer Golf Resort Hotel, the oversized rooms each boast interiors more akin to a home than a hotel in terms of comfort and functionality. The interiors fuse natural materials and rich textures with exceptional craftsmanship. As with all of the studio’s interior projects, the hotel room design is based around a layered interior shell. This time overlapping surfaces covered with custom-designed wallpaper, marble and wood, form a richly layered surface that give the space a domestic feel.
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