Turkish architects Melkan Gursel and Murat Tabanlioglu of Tabanlioglu Architects jointly won MEA Awards’ Architect of the Year.
Originally founded by Murat’s father Hayati Tabanlioglu, with Melkan Gursel joining as partner in 1995, Tabanlioglu Architects is one of the largest architecture firms in the Muslim world. With projects from Senegal to Kazakhstan, Ukraine to England, the Turkish practice has grown to a staff of nearly 200 architects. Together, the two continue to lead the firm successfully, imbuing the practice with their unrelenting architectural approaches.
Murat (RIBA, Chartered Member, Int’l. Assoc. AIA) studied architecture at Vienna Technical University and graduated in 1992. Besides his atelier programme at Istanbul Bilgi University, he lectures at universities and various international platforms. In addition to his national and international contributions as a jury member, such as at AIA and WAF, Murat also served on the Master Jury for the 2013 Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In 2014 he curated the first Pavilion of Turkey at the 14th Venice Biennale. In 2015, he was the curator of the ‘Port City Talks. Istanbul. Antwerp’ exhibition at MAS Antwerp.
Simultaneously, Melkan (Int’l. Assoc. AIA) studied architecture at Istanbul Technical University. Following her graduation in 1993, she attended Polytechnic University of Metropolitan Catalonia for her Master of Architecture. Since joining Tabanlioglu Architects, the percentage of female architects at the firm has risen to almost 60 percent. She has lectured at various national and international platforms and serves as a jury member on several programmes – one of her contributions being RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education. She has co-curated an exhibition at London Design Festival 2015. Besides many other awards, Melkan has been selected as one of the “Europe 40 under 40” in 2008 and “Fifty under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century” in 2015.
The judges felt their portfolios maintained an impressive number of high-profile built projects, making Murat and Melkan among the top architects coming from the greater region. Their recent and current projects include the Selcuklu Congress Center (Turkey), Ataturk Cultural Center renovation (Turkey), Marrakesh Congress Center (Morocco), Crystal Towers (UAE), and Tehran Office-LED Tower (Iran).
“Their work is never foregone, and constantly challenges the ordinary while producing a variety of architectural solutions of great interest,” the panel said.
Accepting the award on their behalf was Dr Mustafa Alper Alhan, partner for the Middle East region at Tabanlioglu Architects.
“Since the company was established by Hayati Tabanlioglu, Melkan and Murat have maintained his original views and kept the office culture throughout time,”Alhan said. “They are also very successful at expanding the company, as well, as we now have offices all over the world, from Istanbul to New York and Dubai. And soon we will open in Berlin.”
Highly commended for a body of work that highlights “his work that responds to the fundamental questions of inhabitations in a solid and concrete way” was Amirhossein Tabrizi from A.T. Architects.
The award was presented by Roca’s export area manager Ali Fouani.