Surprisingly Subtle 300-Foot Radio Tower

The winning design for the Canakkale Antenna Tower in Turkey manages grandeur with restraint.

A city’s skyline can be one of its defining features, and any addition must carefully weigh aesthetics and history. When the western Turkish city of Canakkale announced a contest last year to design a massive observation and broadcast tower for a hillside overlooking the former Ottoman fortress, competing architects and designers angled to create a model with the lightest footprint.

The winning team, a collaboration between IND (Inter.National.Design), Powerhouse Company and the consulting firm ABT, devised a unique structure that not makes a case for local icon status, but also manages to respect the city and site while creating unexpected public space. Architect Felix Madrazo of IND says the challenge was about respecting people’s increased awareness and sensitivity to topology and geography.

“We wanted to do something that was recognizable but with restraint,” he says. “As subtle as possible.”

The search for a shape with minimum impact led to the winning design, almost like an inverted, knotted tie, that separates the antenna and observation deck from the recreational facilities at ground level. Not only does the final design have minimum impact on the hill, but the curvature at the base actually led to the idea of the walkway and interior gardens, a feature not included in the original brief. Madrazo’s team also discovered that, due to the unique shape, the profile changes as viewers approach the tower.

The Çanakkale Antenna is on an aggressive construction plane, set to be finished in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, so Madrazo’s team won’t have to wait long to see the completed concept. They’ll have to wait a little longer to find out what locals nickname the big addition to the skyline.

“People have a lot more imagination than us when it comes to the name,”he says. “Some called it a hot wheels track, there are so many different things.”

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