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Interview: Ebru Kentoğlu

BARN arch., founded in 2016 by Ağacan Bahadır and Tümer Keser, develops architectural and interior design projects that place at its core concepts such as “temporary architecture” and “branded experience spaces”. We asked BARN arch., which values the importance of experiences while designing moments, questions about the design processes fed by different disciplines.

Please tell us a little about yourselves and how you founded BARN arch.

Ağacan Bahadır: We both studied at ITU at the same time and graduated in 2014. While we were still students, we started to create projects about the city and spaces both in and out of the school. Before graduation, we had opportunities to physically build our ideas and found ourselves within professional life. Those were really the most enjoyable years. It was exciting to be able to feed from school and produce outside. BARN became the name and location of this excitement.

At BARN arch. you provide architectural and interior design services but you focus more on the concept of “temporary architecture” in your projects. Why did you gravitate toward this concept, which is creative and interactive and allows people to experience the space in different dimensions?

Tümer Keser: This was a concept that matured during our university years. We would interpret the projects we produced in terms of time-space-city and take time as the primary parameter. As we began to integrate our matured ideas about the city into our projects as spaces to raise awareness, we discovered that awareness happens in the moments that the person experiences in a space. Now we place these encounters and moments at the core of everything. We gain experience in designing moments through our works on the concept of temporary architecture and get the opportunity to replicate them in our architectural and interior designs. The spaces we design turn into a series of rehearsed moments. Thinking of multiple moments together as reversible instances provides a chance to differentiate the content of our temporary space projects. As long as this mutual inspiration continues, I think the same trend will continue.

Your portfolio includes works such as exhibitions, festivals, concerts, residences and restaurants that provide different experiences. Each project brings along a whole new experience process that is fed by different disciplines. What are these processes that present an interactive and dynamic structure? Please explain with examples from your projects. In this process, what are your inspirations and what do you focus on the most, the use of materials and functionality, etc.?

A.B: We observe the status of the scenarios we have created at the end of each project and try to check its functionality by trying to understand the moments. Comparing the works created at different times and with different users keeps us from constructing the same scenarios that would deliver the same experiences. Lately, this has allowed us to leverage the potential of working with different scenarios at different times, users and locations instead of specializing in similar tasks. We once had projects where we designed even the seconds whereas we have now started to design months and years ahead. On the other hand, it can be a challenge to create new scenarios in an area where the programs are very sharp. When this is the case, instead of rewriting a script with the usual material uses and need lists, we try to reform these lists or reproduce them with articulations. The story of diversifying the use of materials, which we talk about quite a lot, is a result of this and we can give the design processes of the RBMA Stage and 76-77 overlapping as an example. If design processes of a stage and residence intersect, a material used for the temporary space can be made into something else to last much longer and become the solution of a detail or somewhere we get stuck in the interior design. The material-light relationship we use in temporary spaces can be the focus of interiors. Despite the differences in functionality, experiences during use can be similar. In short, we try to highlight the positive effects of the diversity in our works and they naturally become points that we focus on more.

You aim to offer people experiences through temporary space designs. Do you think this process of temporary experiences is related to the current consumption culture in the world?

A.B: We think about the consumption culture and consider all its aspects, both positive and negative. We expect that the spaces we create to be temporary but the experiences they provide to remain. And most of the time, we get the opportunity to learn of these individual experiences via social media and comments.

T.K.: We can easily understand the effects of consumption speed and culture on the processes that spaces go through. A restaurant that opens just a day ago can be overbooked today and shut down the next day, changing hands and being redesigned. As Ağacan said, we need to rethink the permanence of the experience. When the moments experienced in the spaces we created repeat themselves, they may begin to give a feeling of exhaustion and not a habit. These thoughts makes us question issued like urban spaces and memory.

“Branded space” is another concept that you focus on and you also have projects that intersect with “temporary architecture”. What do you prioritize and how are yoy inspired when creating these spaced that can be described as branded experience venues?

T.K.: We can say that branded spaces are at the cross-section of our temporary architectural and interior design projects we mentioned because brands are used to working in both areas. After a number of projects we did for global and local brands, our thinking about issues such as “branding” and brand positioning is evolving. And as you mature, it pushes you rethink the concepts of marketing and architecture side by side. We also learn to look at all the situations in temporary spaces from this angle as well. The relevant departments of brands enjoy creating the space together with us by considering their strategies and positioning and how the message they aim to give during the event will manifest itself in the space. Thinking of these spaces as public exhibitions can allow them to communicate their messages to target audiences more easily. The volumes and functionalities we create for a specific venue are enhanced with touches of the brand and sometime evolve into other things. One question that gas lately been challenging us is how to communicate the message without using the logos and colors of the brand. Empty and full spaces, materials, light, sound, sometimes smell ... The idea may sound exciting but we really need to know the brand well and think out of the box and get them to think as well, which I must say is not easy to achieve with every brand.

What are you currently working on and do you have exciting projects in the pipeline?

A.B.: There is an ongoing restaurant work and some branded space projects. Lately we have been working on our research project about hoardings in construction sites under the topic of temporary architecture. We are studying and researching concepts like public spaces and temporary façades. We can’t wait to complete and share it.

Are there any temporary architecture and public space projects that you follow with great interest both in Turkey and the world?

T.K.: Rather than mentioning specific projects, we can talk about people and collectives that have things to say. Bureau Spectacular, Snarkitecture, Studio 11 Minsk, Os & Oos and Santi Zoraidez are very inspirational groups. Lately temporary architecture has become a conversation topic, every article we read and every project we see excites us and gives us a chance to question ourselves.

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