Richard-Meier

Tripping the White Fantastic

13.03.17

Prize-winning architect Richard Meier’s new development in Turkey throws new light on white as Jane Slade discovers

The small picturesque village of Yalikavak, on the westernmost tip of Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula, is an untainted paradise far from the country’s troublesome Eastern border and sizzling metropolis of Istanbul.

Bodrum is a beguiling mix of old and new and eastern and western influences with a modern marina, swanky designer shops and newly-opened Zuma restaurant, traditional white houses scattered on the hillsides, and a necklace of restaurants hugging the waterfront serving fresh fish and Turkish meze.

Bodrum has long been known as a budget holiday destination but now it has shifted to more elevated ground establishing itself as a chic and stylish destination with more superyachts, six-star spas and billionaires than you can shake a jeroboam at.

The opening of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel two years ago has upped the average hotel rate with charges of up to $40,000 a night for a seafront private villa, and the soon-to-open Banyan Tree where Luxury Property Turkey is marketing private residences from £315,000, is destined to raise Bodrum’s profile further setting it apart from the country’s other upscale coastal hotspots of Gocek and Kalkan.

Developers have also learned from Europe about the dangers of over-development which is why contemporary innovation sits comfortably in a preserved landscape of pretty bays and charming fishing villages.

A perfect canvas for the Pritzker-prize winning New York architect Richard Meier, who has brought his technical drawing and design skills to the region with a development of houses – his first project in Turkey.

Meier, whose extensive portfolio includes the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Getty Centre in Los Angeles and Perry Street and Charles Street apartments in New York city has designed five prototype properties on one-acre land parcels on a steep hillside above Yalikavak.

His first house was completed four years ago and his second went on sale this summer. The houses, designed to maximize the incredible coastal panorama which extends down over Bodrum’s Palmarina and Yalikavak Bay across the Aegean Sea, are part of a Master Plan comprising 21 properties on a dramatic site where each plot is unique.

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Each of the five prototypes measure approximately 330 square meters with an additional 40-square-meter guest house.

Each house, such as the one currently on the market, will have a private driveway and entry foyer leading to a dramatic double-height living room where the fireplace chimney is the centrepiece. Each will have a living room, dining room, kitchen, and cloakroom on the ground floor; three bedrooms on the upper floor; and media room, laundry room, and staff bedrooms on the basement level.

“We have designed all the houses to read as a single object on the landscape, giving them a cubic appearance and connection to the site,” says Meier.

“The exterior spaces have been ‘carved out’ of the structures’ volumes while remaining under an over-arching roof, giving each house a subtractive sculptural quality.

“Each element of the master plan’s organization reflects an ambitious attention to detail and innovative use of construction solutions. We hope this new development is not only in direct dialogue to its place, but also that it becomes the best living environment in Yalikavak.”

Meier’s seven-bedroom Bodrum house priced at $6million is visually compelling, following his signature smooth geometric design, luminous white colour and enormous floor to ceiling windows which not only maximize light but enhance the flow of open-plan living spaces from inside to out and vice versa.

The project is also a milestone for the developer Ali Pamir. “Mr Meier is a very established architect and rarely agrees to doing something residential – but he really liked our site in Bodrum and took the assignment after personally inspecting it.

“He declined the opportunity to be involved in the much larger Zorlu Center project in İstanbul - as well as other opportunities in Turkey so both Nicolas Berggruen - the investor behind Bodrum Houses - and myself were delighted that he chose to work with us.”

The light and landscape suited Meier’s love of white too, as Pamir explains: “Bodrum architecture is also traditional white - and when you factor in Richard's focus on treatment of light in spaces he creates - it was a great match.”

“White is the most wonderful colour because within it you can see all the colours of the rainbow,” adds Meier. “The whiteness of white is never just white; it is almost always transformed by light and that which is changing; the sky, the clouds, the sun and the moon.”

This romantic vision is one shared by Darren Edwards, who is marketing Richard Meier’s houses through his Bodrum-based company Luxury Property Turkey.

“Bodrum has an average of 305-days sunshine a year so the light is always magical and changing from sunrise to sunset which is why we have so many artists living here.

“It is also a sailor’s paradise ideally situated on the Aegean with the entire bay of Gokova and many Greek Islands all within very easy reach not to mention three International marinas and dozens of beaches, harbours and villages. This has encouraged more high-end developers to build here too offering a greater choice to discerning and affluent buyers.

“There’s an excellent infrastructure of roads, schools, shopping malls, state-of-the-art hospitals, cinemas and theatres and a fantastic community lead by affluent Turks from Istanbul and Ankara and a diverse foreign community of Europeans who have been lured by the region’s stunning location and way of life.”

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