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Ahead of this week’s RMJM Global Conference in Istanbul, we sat down with Sotiris Tsoulos, RMJM Istanbul’s Managing Partner, to discuss the responsibility of hosting such an event, architectural developments in his city and what is on the horizon for himself and his team.
Can you tell us about how it feels to be the host of this year’s RMJM Conference?
It is a great honour and huge responsibility. The global conferences mark the progress of RMJM and effectively define the global strategy of the firm. I hope that this conference will also be a landmark meeting for the organization.
What do you consider to be the most interesting recent developments within architectural design in Istanbul and how has RMJM Istanbul contributed to them?
Istanbul has made a full circle in architecture in the span of 15 years of development. The wave started with classic ‘copy and paste’ architecture from international examples, continued with the involvement of international architects and right now is at a level where unique Istanbulian contemporary architecture is being developed. Developers, users and locally working architects have all evolved their approach to design. We see now more than ever clients asking for alternative solutions in retail and not the classic mall setup, we see them appreciate green architecture and the importance of nature in design. Most importantly, we now see all of the above on a mass scale, thus affecting the average developer or constructor.
Where do you see things going when it comes to the future of architectural design in Turkey and Istanbul in particular?
I believe that the mass scale development will eventually pause and niche projects will appear. We will need to re-think and re-invent non usable spaces and future non-sold spaces. It promises to be a very interesting period.
RMJM Istanbul has designed some of the most iconic contemporary buildings in the Turkish capital such as Varyap Meridian, Metropol and the G Tower. What haven’t you done yet that you would like to do in the near future?
There is one serious project that we have been working on for years that I would like to see built, the Barbaros Tower. It has all of the elements of architecture that we are ambassadors of; open air shopping, wonderful internal public spaces, high-end residences and office spaces but at the same time a project that re-stiches the city fabric and gives back to the citizens of Istanbul, not only the ones that can afford but the general public. I think if we manage to complete this project we will have done a small miracle in this city.
Why do you see yourselves as the best studio to work on a project of those characteristics?
I think that what we do best is that we give back the city to the public. We try to create democratic, open, livable spaces for the users while at the same time making sure that the project is financially viable. It is the most sensitive balance and that is where we nest. I am very proud of the team in Istanbul.
Can you unveil some information on a project that you are currently involved in and excited about?
Confidentiality agreements prevent me from doing so!