Inanc Eray: "We believe that the power of architecture and design should not be confined to one geography. It is very important for us to be abroad, especially in cities that are active and open to innovations."
Yapi interviewed İnanç Eray, one of the partners of SOUR, an architecture and design firm in 2015, about the projects developed by the office and the future of the construction industry in Turkey and the USA.
YAPI: First of all, can you talk a little bit about SOUR? When was it founded? What works are you working on?
IE: SOUR is the last link of our architectural journey that has continued with different partnerships since 2005. After the Istanbul Camlica communication tower competition, which we won at the end of 2011, our office first started its Istanbul-based works. Later, upon the request of housing and hotel projects from New York, our projects started to be carried out as a New York-Istanbul concentrically at the beginning of 2015.
In our studio, we work on projects especially for metropoles, cities of the world such as New York City, London and Istanbul. Our projects, in which we use the latest technology with a design and people-oriented approach, diversify in subjects such as housing, hotel, environmental planning, restaurant/café interior architecture and product design.
YAPI: Do you follow the Turkish real estate market and newly built architectural structures? Can you evaluate the urban transformation works that have been initiated all over the country in this regard?
IE: Urban transformation works are a phenomenon of which you cannot remain indifferent as a city dweller. As a city dweller who is based in Istanbul periodically due to my travels/stays abroad, I have been experiencing the transformation of the city, and therefore the people who use it, for about 10 years. I believe that what makes a city a city is its people, and architecture is the reflection of the character, expectations, hopes or despairs of those people on the city. Therefore, I see the studies and income-based approaches in Turkey as a reflection of the country's character. Sometimes I get angry and sad. But I have many friends who excite me with their characters, dreams and hopes. Therefore, I do not lose hope that it will be done better.
YAPI: What are the benefits of having an office abroad?
IE: First of all, not belonging to a city (not being from there) enables us to approach all issues with a critical eye, both internally and externally. At the end of each trip, we are very excited to examine the issues with a different perspective and to discover new points each time.
Secondly, we believe that the power of architecture and design should not be confined to one geography. It is very important for us to be abroad, especially in an active and innovative city. The fact that the work we produce is appreciated and valued gives us the desire to work even harder.
Of course, I cannot say that it is easy to establish a business abroad. Competing in a highly competitive market, keeping the bridge we have built between Turkey and America, and being where the best and new are expected requires hard work and patience. Otherwise, many foreign companies fail because they cannot keep up with the market.
You cannot go abroad just to make money, you have to love what you do and work hard. If you don't have any supporting institutions, organizations or states behind you, this is the only way.
YAPI: Can you evaluate the New York real estate market?
IE: It is certain that the most valuable and therefore the most competitive sector in New York is real estate. The fact that everyone, domestic and foreign, wants to be here, constantly pushes real estate and land prices up. Since it is very difficult to find vacant land in Manhattan, unused construction rights are sold and changed hands and many projects are realized in this way. In Brooklyn and Queens, we see that many construction projects are taking place in places following the subway line, and we see that many district values, especially in Brooklyn, match Manhattan. Foreign small/medium investors prefer to gain market experience by investing in the developing areas of Brooklyn and Queens.
Time and resource discipline is very important in projects carried out in New York, as time lost in construction causes enormous costs.