Kaplankaya Phase 1
Muğla, Turkey
Best Project

Owner Capital Partners
Lead Design Firm Office of Architecture Barcelona (OAB)
Contractor İda Group
Structural Engineer Zafer Kınacı Mühendislik
MEP Engineer Okutan Mühendislik
Infrastructure DİYAP Proje ve Yapim
Landscape DDS
Construction Manager Turner International LLC

Building a hotel and spa into the side of a mountain along the Aegean coast in western Turkey, the project team for the Kaplankaya Phase 1 project sought to preserve the stark beauty of the natural landscape while constructing on a remote, undeveloped site. Lead contractor İda Group had to use extensive blasting to remake the rocky surface of the hillside for the 2.1-million-sq-ft project, undertaking complex logistical planning to preserve the natural greenery, ancient trails and coastal landscape around the site during construction.

Contractors used much of the material recovered from the blasting excavation in the hotel’s 500,000 sq ft of stone retaining walls, a creative form of reuse that impressed the ENR’s Best Projects judges. The resulting structure is integrated into the topography of the waterfront mountainside in a series of cascading spaces that reflect the wild coastline on which it is sited.

Lead architect Carlos Ferrater, of the Office of Architecture Barcelona (OAB), sought to keep the design of the space within the shape of the mountainside, resulting in a series of low, sloping buildings that descend to the coastline. The development includes a hotel, with 141 rooms and a spa, as well as a residential area comprising 76 private villas.

ENR judges lauded the Kaplankaya project for its preservation of the character of the natural, rocky landscape of the Anatolian coast, despite the hotel development’s scale. One judge noted that, when one looks at “the profile of the development in the side of the hill, you can hardly see it. … Blending [the structure] into the surroundings like that—it’s incredible.”

Limited access to the jobsite was a major hurdle that needed to be cleared, not only for workers but for the delivery of building materials, as well. The site of the Kaplankaya hotel was accessible only by a 45-minute boat ride along the coast, with no suitable roadways going to the site. Despite these challenges, the team was able to maintain the project’s schedule and avoid any significant delays.

Safety was a major concern, and construction manager Turner International implemented a safety monitoring and training regimen that exceeded Turkey’s own construction-safety regulations. Blasting used at the site was a major safety risk, and precautions were taken to safeguard workers and reduce the spread of debris and dust. To preserve the natural green spaces around the site, Turner limited the building of service roads, and drone flyovers were used to check that green spaces stayed green.

The hotel project is only part of a larger, 7.8-million-sq-ft development in the Kaplankaya region by Turkey-based developer Capital Partners. When completed, the master plan will include spaces designed by a range of global architects besides Ferrater, including Steven Holl, Norman Foster and Robert A.M. Stern. The first phase that includes the Ferrater-designed hotel and residences was completed in 2016, but the larger development is still far from finished.

Despite being only the first part of a much larger whole, one ENR judge said this phase of the project could be studied as a successful greenfield development in its own right. “It is a poster child for how you can fit in an entire project into a pristine environment and do it without hurting in anyway the existing surroundings,” the judge noted during deliberations.

Related Article: Global Best Projects Awards 2017