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Featured Building - February 2022

Girne City Hall (Courtyard Convergence)

Photo Credit: Kerim Belet Photography & Sevket Turel Flycam

COURTYARD CONVERGENCE.


At the crossroads of a Cypriot port city, a new civic center prioritizes urban placemaking and outdoor social spaces.


The site is bounded by city streets on three sides, and represents a consolidation of three distinct civic functions:

Municipal Offices

City Hall

Performing Arts


At this new City Center, we seek, adapt and re-interpret an indispensable and now endangered part of the island’s intangible cultural heritage - the Courtyard.


The Courtyard is a response to the island’s climatic conditions, and to the site’s solar orientation and traffic patterns. It conveys cooling mountain breezes and creates sheltered outdoor spaces.


At each of the four levels, workers and guests pass through the Courtyard, its exterior landings and shaded stairwell to visit, conduct business, and take breaks.


It connects those three civic functions, literally linking ground-level entrances via covered, planted-roofed walkways that protect pedestrians from sun and rain. But more than that, it becomes a forum facilitating chance encounters and discourse.


The glass-canopied stair ascends from there, protected from the elements by its PV-embedded glass. When the sun shines, occasional panes of red, yellow and orange project a dynamic art composition below.


North of the Courtyard and bisected by the stair slot runs the long Municipal Office Building. Its rooms enjoy views north to the Mediterranean and south across the Five-Finger Mountains.


South of the Courtyard and facing the most public intersection is the Performing Arts Center. The theater within will be completed soon but its cafe - tucked under theater seating - spills out onto a performance plaza.


East of the Courtyard is City Hall. Essentially a three-story atrium, its glass curtain-walled eastern front welcomes the public through a shady portico.


In all this, we aim to re-establish and expand opportunities for social interactions. With open space on the site exceeding built area, we’ve adapted the island’s resilient courtyard tradition to this complex program to create a true community crossroads.



AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence


1. Design for Integration: What is the big idea behind this project and how did sustainability inform the design concept?

At the crossroads of a Cypriot port city, a new civic center prioritizes urban placemaking and outdoor social spaces. At this new City Center, we seek, adapt and re-interpret an indispensable and now endangered part of the island’s intangible cultural heritage - the Courtyard. Sustainable in the truest sense, the Courtyard is a time-tested Mediterranean response to the island’s climatic conditions, and to the site’s solar orientation and traffic patterns. It conveys cooling mountain breezes and creates sheltered outdoor social spaces. Planted walkway roofs, PV-film shade canopy glass, and a courtyard that collects and stores water in underground cisterns extend this sustainability in multiple ways.


2. Design for Equitable Communities: How does this project contribute to creating a walkable, human-scaled community inside and outside the property lines?

This project prioritizes walkable, human-scaled outdoor spaces with buildings crafted around them, rather than objectifying the buildings. The site exists at a convergence of the residential and commercial, the modern and old city. It is walking distance and accessible to all, and integrates those patterns of movements through its design and orientation. It links to a linear green park system that extends north of the building, and is designed around exterior circulation and stair landings that double as gathering areas in addition to public plazas around three sides of the building.


3. Design for Ecology: In what ways does the design respond to the ecology of its place?

The design from the beginning prioritized preservation of existing mature cypress trees, and conceived the plaza design around that. The site also links to and enhances the small lateral of a river coming from the mountain range to the south which ties to diverse neighborhoods, a school, and the old town by creating a path and green spaces by the creek. Overall, the building’s design harvests rainwater, captures cooling mountain breezes, and converts sunlight to electricity.


4. Design for Water: How does the project relate to the regional watershed?

As noted above, the design preserved and enhanced an existing creek as a watershed drainage as well as a green space amenity. The Courtyard is built on a raised floor collection/pool system within that takes all the roof rain water to two 120 metric ton cisterns with overflow to the creek. This helps manage storm surges and provides water for the plantings.


5. Design for Economy: How does the project efficiently meet the program and design challenges and provide “more with less”?

The program consolidates satellite municipal functions dispersed through the city under one roof, and provide 400 seat multi-purpose auditorium with cafe. To preserve the site’s cypress and ancient olive trees, its creek and pedestrian access across, construction footprint was limited and the main municipal office building went four stories to maximize open space at ground level.


6. Design for Energy: Is the project energy-efficient and sustainable while improving building performance, function, comfort, and enjoyment?

The north facade is a rainscreen to handle wind-driven rain. The south facade is protected deep overhangs and sliding exterior shade panels, the west facade is windowless to protect from the brutal evening sun. From proper solar protections and orientation and window openings and overhangs, to PV collection integrated into the Performance Hall glass and stair canopy, to harvesting cooling breezes, the design is a demonstration project in climate-attuned design that simultaneously enhances performance, function, comfort and enjoyment.


7. Design for Wellness: How does the design promote the health of the occupants?

The entire design is built around encouraging walking. Located at the city center, consolidating services, prioritizing public open space. Additionally, water-based paint is used throughout and fresh air HVAC for the entire building.


8. Design for Resources: How did the design team optimize the amount and makeup of material used on the project?

Local materials are used throughout. The concrete and portland cement that make up the structure and many of the finishes are from within 150 miles. We worked closely with stone suppliers to develop a 2 cm thick cladding, and all stone cladding and sills are from within 30 miles. Polished, ground concrete floors are designed with local gravel, sand and cement.


9. Design for Change: Is the building resilient, and able to easily accommodate other uses in 50-100 years?

There are no columns in the municipal offices, providing for maximum future flexibility to reconfigure as uses change, while the City Hall atrium is clear spanned due to a concrete waffle slab design to permit for reconfiguration for other civic uses in the future.


Owner: Girne Municipality

Contractor: Korman Construction

Electrical Engineer: Osman Eminel

Mechanical Engineer: Yunus Terlik

Photography: Kerim Belet Photography & Sevket Turel Flycam

In.Site Project Team: Ali Teknikel, Architect; Anil Cagdan, Architect; Hasan Ozgit, Construction Administrator; Perihan Caygur, Construction Administrator


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