Sara Adakan / Daniel Gonvers

3 restoration projects

2012/2017 İstanbul


Thought to have been built in the second half of the 19th century and known as the Beyoğlu French School and Pension of Sainte Elisabeth, the buildings were divided into smaller constructions due to changes of use and needs in time.

This authentic integrity still manifests itself with the presence of a shared stone floor, which is barely recognizable today, along with elements of windows and facades that show continuity in alignment with each other. With its main facade facing the Tercüman Çıkmazı Street, the school consisted of two main buildings, four entrances and four wide stairs, with classrooms of 20 square meters located in front and back facades of each floor. On the last floor of the building were the rooms of the janitors and the basement floor that opened to the garden included service areas.

street elevation

The building that was in an overall damaged condition and the roof that had collapsed due to a fire, required crucial amendments. The brick walls and the wooden beams were preserved and repaired.

The grandiose staircase, which formed one third of the floor plan, was treated as the most important element that needed to be preserved. While the central staircase was renovated with solid wood as per the original, the glass roof over the stairhead was constructed for the sun light to reach the lower floors of the building. Interiors of the building were preserved without making any changes to the general planning schemes - adding elements of modern comfort. This building which was divided into sections to become home to a variety of workshops and warehouses after having served as a school, was renovated in accordance with the typology of ribbon developments in historical residential areas of Istanbul, and is now used for residential purposes.

ground floor plan

second and third floor plan

The 65 cm-thick brick walls were supported with heat insulation applied from the inside, optimizing the thermal mass of the building. The cooling, heating, ventilation and hot water needs of the building were met with technical set-ups with heat recovery and lower levels of energy consumption.

Speaking of meeting expectations of contemporary living while repairing a historical structure, this restoration project shows that the old construction techniques and the latest technologies complete each other in harmony. Renovating a historical building is an action to protect cultural heritage as well as the environment and can be integrated into an innovative and sustainable approach towards city planning.

2014/2015 İstanbul


Located on a long and pretty narrow (23x9m) land, the 5-floor apartment building was built by Levantine architects A. N. Perpignani and M. G. Langas towards the end of the 19th century. Shaped with a longitudinal facade, balcony and room extensions decreasing the massive effect of the thin and tall structure, the building creates a multi-layered perspective with interconnected rooms that were sequentially arranged.

In this restoration project, wooden doors that make transition between different spaces possible were key. These doors can create different depths when open or closed and generate a “bigger” perception in this 60 square meters apartment with 5 rooms. Distributed with a «central sofa» instead of a corridor, the interior structure saves space as well as creating an advantage for flexible and versatile planning.

floor plan

propriety limit

The original doors and wooden flooring were repaired and kept in natural pine color. This way they formed a clear contrast with the light-colored walls and the room dividing/connecting role of the doors were highlighted. Solid wood was commonly used as a material. While the exterior joinery was totally renewed, the window frames were designed in harmony with the existing flooring and doors. Revealed from under many layers of paint, the hand-drawn ceiling decorations were repaired preserving the original form. The kitchen and the bathroom were treated to form just one « functional block ». The service areas which form only 7 square meters of the total area, were designed to meet today’s standards despite the limited space.

2006/2007 İstanbul


The residential building designed by the Italian architect Guglielmo Semprini for pediatrician Nikola Fakaçelli, consists of ten apartments with areas ranging between 90 to 110 square meters. As a new type of residence, this «Apartment Building» forms a representative of the buildings that were constructed in accordance with the regulations enacted after the Great Beyoğlu Fire in 1870. As traditional wooden houses were turned into apartment buildings, these structures that were new in terms of both the construction techniques and the materials used, and planned in larger and higher forms to accommodate multiple households, later appeared in also the other regions of Istanbul.

The main facade of the building clearly stands out with its embellishments, protruding window frames and ornate bay windows facing the street. Along with the ornamentations, the fact that the street facade of the building was of primary importance, was also apparent in the architectural plan scheme. It is understood that the most important part, the “living room” was initially located on this side. On the other hand, built on the foothills of Aynalı Çeşme - one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tepebaşı, the building took advantage of the open scenery extending down until The Golden Horn. Planned for the use of all residents, the common terrace and the garden which once faced the green slopes of Kasımpaşa, still reflect that Semprini was conscious about this duality.

street elevation - floor plan

The planning type with sofas - a typical type in traditional Ottoman domestic architecture - continued to play a significant role in interiors and is apparent in this building as well. In this new multi-storied residential buildings, sofa typology serves as a matrix: Generally located in the center of the apartment, the sofa which can become multi-functional and provide great flexibility for the planning scheme, is a central room providing transition to other spaces. In this apartment, the “entrance hall-sofa” planning type allows a versatile use of the rooms while 3.20 meters ceiling height adds to the ambiance and lighting quality of the apartment.

In the planning scheme, the service areas were redesigned to meet today’s requirements. Wet areas were expanded by moving the kitchen from the restricted service area to the space on the garden side with a wide panoramic view.

Unraveled from under the plaster that were carefully removed, the frescos were renovated without damaging the “patina”, with a color palette inspired by the metal and earth tones of natural dye pigments. The existing wooden doors and flooring were repaired preserving the original form.

Preserving the original elements, avoiding any faulty applications, identifying and repairing elements that will be highlighted to create the “new” visual structure were used as common approaches in the restoration projects of historical structures.

With such renovation works, projects that form timeless examples for modernity and comply with the circular economy model were aimed with a purpose to regain them in the city center.

conserve - protect restore - use