Unexpected Hill

When Oral Göktaş and Sevince Bayrak of, emerging Istanbul based, SO? Architecture and ideas entered a design competition hosted by the Royal Academy of Arts and Turkishceramics, they had no idea how inventive they would have to be when approaching the task.

The competition invited four up-and-coming-design practices to submit proposals for an installation, which would be presented in the RA and which would respond to the concept of 'transformation' - both of a building and a material.


It was a huge thrill for SO? Architecture and ideas when the jury, consisting of representatives from the Royal Academy of Arts, Turkishceramics and Stanton Williams Architects, chose them for their Unexpected Hill, an urban invention made of ceramics. Especially because they were not able to visit the space when they entered the competition. A ten-month-old baby and visa policies made planning a trip to see the space, in short notice, problematic for the architects so Göktaş and Bayrak found a very modern solution - Google.

By using Google Street View the architects were able to view the chosen space for the installation, the rear entrance of the RA on Burlington Gardens. Looking closer Göktaş and Bayrak noticed pedestrians using bollards as make shift sitting posts and this sparked an idea. The pair would create a bold, urban installation, which invites the public to occupy and enjoy the space over the summer months.


Trusting their intuition and their skills as architects, they created, what feels like, a breath of fresh air in the urban jungle of high-end shops and galleries, that dominate the Mayfair area.

The growing, blue stairs, which create an unexpected hill, are made from ceramic tiles. Often we see tiles like these on walls, creating geometric patterns. Göktaş and Bayrak, however, saw a possibility in turning these otherwise two dimensional objects into a three-dimensional space, thereby creating a hill.

Most importantly Göktaş and Bayrak want the public use the space. There is no doubt that this will be a perfect place for the rushed Londoner, to sit down and relax in the heat of the summer months.

Unexpected Hills is accompanied by a wall of ceramics inside the RA. Visitors can play around with tiles varying in shape, size and colour, creating there own shapes and designs, and experiencing the diversity of ceramics.

Opens Friday the 3rd of July 2015 @ The Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens
Admission: Free

Text by Precious Mahaga and Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen for Crane.tv

For more cultural news follow Crane.tv on Twitter or find us on Facebook or Instagram