Birge Yıldırım Okta (Oktaa, Co-Founder)

She is a practicing architect, researcher and founder of the architectural office, OKTAA. She holds an academic position as an assistant professor at Kadir Has University. She worked as an assistant professor (2014-2017) in Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture, where she got her PhD degree (2014). She completed her research on local public space and niche theory in Columbia University, Department of Philosophy as a postdoctoral researcher with the TUBİTAK Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She was a special student at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design (2012-2013). She completed her MSc in Istanbul Technical University, Department of Architecture, History of Architecture. During her master studies she was a visiting student in Universidade do Minho, Portugal. Her research and teaching interests include urban history, urban design, landscape design and architectural design. She has publications, conference talks, workshops, exhibitions regarding these topics. She has won design awards from national and international competitions and her works were exhibited in international and national exhibitions.

Van Silkroad Municipality Center

Client Van Silkroad Municipality
Project Type National Competition
Date Completed 2016
Collaborators Gürkan Okta, Zeynep Ataş, Osman Sümer
Design Company OKTAATOLYE
Awards Second Mention

The architectural design for the City of Van Silk Road Municipality Centre required several objectives: the design had to reflect the principle of transparent and participatory management of municipality services. Our design for the Van Silk Road Municipality Centre provides platforms which make communication and sharing possible; integrates the existing city dynamics; promotes the building of public space through a transparent and participatory process.

One challenge was to search for a design scenario that would provide an alternative approach to the existing use of public space – a scenario which would, on one hand, inspire the feeling of ownership by everyone and, on the other hand, include the physical codes of the public space.

Main design parameter was to design public stages, as an integral part of the Centre, that would help the community to participate. The assembly hall and the multifunctional hall, which were a part of the building project, provided the opportunity to meet this objective. The front facade of the building is designed to open to the amphitheatre on the park outside and transforms the assembly to a city assembly and the multifunctional hall into a public hall. This feature of our design provides a potential for the development of public space and the integration of the Centre to everyday life.

A Prototype School in Africa

Client KYM Field Schools
Project Type International Competition
Date Completed 2016
Collaborators Gürkan Okta
Design Company OKTAATOLYE

The project is designed for supporting the community based organizations in the local regions of tropical savanna territory of Africa. With it is building components the project offers to start the interaction between unemployed population and local authorities in construction. In the construction process of the school unemployed locals will be trained in the manufacture of stabilized earth and shading components.

For this reason, the project offers variation of natural materials according to different regions such as reeds, branches, timber, earth, cob, bamboo which would easily be obtained, processed and manufactured by the local people. The tropical savanna climate was decisive in design process. For the year round high temperatures and preventing perpendicular lights of the sun shadow and semi shadow areas are created in the courtyard playground. According to the needs it is optional to use wind generators positioning to the strongest possible wind. The heavy rainy summer season of tropical savanna climate become an advantage for rainwater storage. Grey water is also used as a renewable water source in toilets. The project’s green design strategies stress the vulnerability of the local ecology.

The pyramidal mud huts of vernacular African architecture were an inspiration for the project. Taking the inspiration from the vernacular architecture, the flat top pyramidal roofs respond both to heavy rainy summer season, provide passive ventilation and generate electricity with photovoltaic panels.