Over the roofs of Istanbul

Ursula Herrling-Tusch
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Istanbul, Turkey's largest metropolis and the world's only city on two continents, looks back on a long and turbulent history. To this day, this former capital of three empires – the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires – has lost nothing of its fascination. Imposing buildings dating from over two millennia characterize this melting pot of cultures. But today, in addition to the countless famous mosques and palaces, the modern buildings of up-and-coming industries are also increasingly catching the eye of visitors.

The country's biggest pharmaceuticals producer, Abdi Ibrahim Pharmaceuticals, also has its headquarters in the city where East and West meet. A growing population, increasing health consciousness and a proliferation of health services and medical centers have caused a boom in the market for pharmaceuticals in Turkey. The company tower building, with its large-scale façade of woven wire mesh by the technical weaver GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG has already become a new landmark in the capital. A shimmering outer shell of 940 square meters of architectural mesh type Lago reflects the blazing sunlight with cool elegance and mirrors the surrounding cityscape. The exceptional aesthetics of the mesh are coupled with its functionality as sun protection in front of the almost completely glazed high-rise façade of the company headquarters. A further eye catcher is the roof sail which undulates gracefully down from the top of the tower like a waterfall. This is made of woven stainless steel wire mesh type Tigris, also produced by GKD. It serves as sun protection for the two upper-storey terraces located beneath it. To top it all, the Abdi Ibrahim Group has used a spectacular medialization of the tip of this roof sail to underline its leading position on the Turkish market. This is where MEDIAMESH®, a stainless steel wire mesh with integrated LEDs, was first used for an outdoor installation.

Premiere 130 meters up

This system is unique throughout the world. Tigris cable mesh forms the basis, with aluminum carrier sleeves woven into its warp cables. Once weaving is completed, transparent round profiles equipped with LEDs in specific configurations are inserted into the sleeves. These profiles are then connected linearly by cable in groups of about 16.

A mesh panel measuring 5.80 x 5.80 meters was produced for this pilot project in Istanbul and equipped with inserted LED profiles and cabling, then the fully finished product was rolled up and transported to the city on the Bosphorus. There it was installed 130 meters above the ground. It was attached to a concave substructure which had been fixed to the roof and to the protruding tower of the elevator shaft. Flush-mounted to this substructure, the MEDIAMESH® is secure even in strong winds.

Blue for the message in the sunshine

With a resolution of 2700 pixels, the new company logo, consisting of the company name in blue, is visible from a great distance. Normally, MEDIAMESH® pixels consist of at least three LEDs each: red, green and blue (RGB). For the solution in Istanbul, GKD opted for a particularly luminous pixel configuration of one red, one green and four blue LEDs. This variant ensures an amazing brilliance of color for the presentation of the blue company logo even during daytime operation, in spite of the extreme intensity of the sunshine which is typical in Turkey, and which is further intensified by the fact that the MEDIAMESH ® panel is aligned towards the south. Night operation envisages the presentation of color videos and this, too, has been catered for through the specific configuration of the LED profiles. The control units required for this type of display were installed on the roof. Once the mesh panel had been installed, the pre-cabled mesh sections were connected via these units to a server inside the building. This technology allows display all kinds of visuals on the MEDIAMESH® façade, even via the Internet if required.

Metallic fabrics take the world by storm

The architects Dante O. Benini & Partners were the first planners to exploit the innovative potential of this mesh system. Apart from the novel medialization opportunities it now also offers, the outstanding aesthetic and functional advantages of wire mesh have been convincing arguments for its use in architecture for a long time, forming the basis for ten years of worldwide success for architectural and design fabric by GKD. The textile-like, shimmering structure of the flowing mesh coupled with its transparency and reflectivity give woven stainless steel wire mesh a distinctive flair and decorative high-tech grace, even in its simplest form. In addition, the material also has a range of convincing functional properties like practically unlimited service life, easy cleaning, fire-resistance, recyclability, room climate control capability and the sturdy protection it offers. Even the new system with integrated LED profiles maintains the inherent transparency of the woven mesh structure, letting people inside look out, and letting daylight penetrate into the interior of the building. In this way it offers a perfect combination of complete mesh façade and optimal medialization.

A present day jewel

The MEDIAMESH® system, low on maintenance requirements and resistant to both weather and temperature, allows a wide range of display options. Whether graphics or video, in daylight or by night, the mesh can be configured specifically to match the planned application, the spatial context and the required image quality. And there are no limits on its dimensions. In fact, the special fascination of this transparent media façade lies in the sheer size of the display area, which intensifies the sensual impact of electronic images against a backdrop of urban architecture.

The medialized top of the Abdi Ibrahim headquarters emphasizes the pioneer quality of this almost 100-year-old pharmaceuticals company. The new company headquarters with its radiant tip made of MEDIAMESH® carries this pioneer spirit forward into a new era – medialized, dynamic and colorful – and creates a modern counterpoint among the glittering city lights of the Turkish capital.

Over the roofs of Istanbul
Over the roofs of Istanbul

Installing MEDIAMESH® on the headquarters of Abdi Ibrahim Pharmaceuticals. © GKD/ag4 media facade GmbH

Over the roofs of Istanbul

Elegantly undulating roof sail made of Tigris mesh at the top of the building. © GKD/ag4 media facade GmbH

Over the roofs of Istanbul

A new counterpoint in Istanbul's skyline – the Abdi Ibrahim tower building © GKD/ag4 media facade GmbH

Over the roofs of Istanbul

Shimmering Lago mesh fronts the glass façade and provides reliable sun protection. © GKD/ag4 media facade GmbH

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