Turkish delight

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TURKEY: Wilson Associates has completed the first phase of its renovation of The Marmara Taksim hotel in Istanbul, Turkey.

The refurbishment includes the lobby entrance and reception, lobby lounge, Tuti Restaurant, business centre and lounge, pre-function area and meeting space.

Other work, to be completed by the end of the year, includes the Chocolate Shop, Panorama Restaurant, ballroom and conference space, spa, pool and gym.

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Dan Kwan, senior VP and executive design director, Wilson Associates said the owners of the hotel wanted a unique out-of-the-box design reflecting the richness of the city.

The first phase took a year to complete from design to completion and due to the hotel’s aged architectural structure, the building revealed many challenges for the team ie, the design work had to be structurally safe, to avoid disturbing the existing structural elements.

“We faced many challenges. Naturally, being an old building, a lot of the history was hidden behind years of renovations and cosmetic changes,” said Kwan.

“When we removed everything, all this history was revealed in its full glory. For example, we found columns and beams we thought would not be there. The challenge was trying to tailor-make a new suite around a grand dame.”

Inspiration was drawn from the people and history of Istanbul, taking the vibrant colours of Ottoman kaftans and incorporating them into each space of the design.

While the red tones of the lobby evoke warm feelings of passion and desire, the serene blue accents revealed in the conference rooms bring an air of wisdom and dignity.

“Turkey has a rich and varied history, from Byzantine to Roman to Ottoman to Ataturk to modernity: like a fine piece of kaftan fabric, each thread was painstakingly woven into this fine fabric of life, that protects and nurtures the city,” said Kwan.

“The kaftan represents all that is beautiful in Istanbul, and what we did was super size the weaving pattern, abstract it and turned it into the architectural elements that you see in the property today. Each area is an abstraction of some pattern from this kaftan, from the ceiling to the screens to the column coverings.

“Inspiration came from the colours of Istanbul, blue for the Bosphorus and red from the setting sun. Red factors heavily into our scheme as it represents the life blood that binds us all and the passion that Turkish culture is known for. “

The design firm used local artisans and craftsmen, honouring the 20-year-old property’s cultural heritage, installing a glass chandelier, created by local artist Nahide, in the entrance lobby.

Nearly all the lighting fixtures and control systems are low voltage LEDs to preserve the natural colours of the materials, highlighting them and not washing out their richness. “Cheap LED lights make everything look ghostly. We took a conscious decision to invest in this technology for the good of everyone.”

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