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Horror Vacui

The tabletop organizer designed by PAB Arcihtects for 15th anniversary of Arkitera Architecture Center's inauguration aims to create an awareness for the physical environment besides its daily use.

Horror Vacui...

A.k.a Fear of Empty Space

A Latin phrase “Horror Vacui” which can be translated as fear of empty space, is the filling of the entire surface or an artwork with overwhelming details in visual arts. As PAB Architects we borrow this idea for the design Horror Vacui!”, a desk accessory, to describe the current formation of cities and planning problems in their country.

The design of “Horror Vacui!” keeps these questions in mind: Are the local governors, politicians, investors, even planners and architects scared of leaving open areas in the cities open and free? Can we refrain ourselves from filling these last open areas with new projects, glamorous ideas and rising building blocks? Aren’t the open areas in between the dense city blocks are a value on their own as the break times in the daily rush, to raise your eyes to the sky and breathe…?

Arkitera Architecture Center based in Istanbul invited PAB Architects, as the recipient of Young Architect Award of 2015, to design a gift to celebrate Arkitera’s 15th anniversary. “Horror Vacui!” that we designed for Arkitera is an organizer for stationary in the form of a city plan.

The organizer holds pens, post-its, paperclips, note and business cards in the voids of the streets and open spaces in between the city blocks. The city plans are imprinted on natural wooden blocks by CNC router. The blocks have a dimension of 13x13x3(h) cm and 10x18x3(h) cm to be both an organizer and a decorative object on the tabletop. For the city plans we chose three distinct urban areas each with a different discussion point that raise a different question and awareness for urban life quality:

A new high-rise office tower project is in question on a public land in one of the most dense business districts of Istanbul, Buyukdere Avenue. Deprived of social facilities and public open spaces, is it wise to privatize the only public land left in the neighborhood and increase the density even more? Instead, can it be designed as an open air public plaza for white-collared people to spend their lunchtimes?

Another discussion is to be held for the future of Piyale Paşa Urban Farm a genuine part of the Piyale Paşa Mosque campus, which was built by the reputed Sinan The Architect in the Ottoman times. This historical site is under use since 16th century as the main source of income for the mosque. Organizing urban farms to get income for the public buildings is a unique characteristic of urban operations of Ottoman era that is viewed as a cultural heritage. In 2015 the project of the local government to transform the urban farm into a car park is rejected by the cultural heritage preservation board with the persistent follow-up of the public. However, the only historical urban farm left in the neighborhood is still under the threat of the transformation pressures of the modern city. The question is this: how can it keep its historic and productive character and integrate to the needs of the modern world?

At the very heart of the city of Izmir is the Culturepark used as an open-air fair and recreation venue since 1936. It’s one of the most frequently used areas of the public with its vast green areas and hundreds of trees which makes it a significant element of the collective urban memory. However the local government is planning to relocate the fair venues at the suburbs of the city. The main point is to discuss which risks the transformation process will bring along when Culturepark is ripped off from one of its prominent functions and left as an abandoned open area.


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