Başak Yurtseven

Published Jul 14, 2020

Space is constituted by physical construction, while creating internal and external perception. In a word, space is a place that combines objectivity and subjectivity. In 1989, architect Steven Holl revealed the concept of “anchoring.” This concept depends on a specific field of research that links site, idea, history and phenomena for each architectural design. Every building has one site and space. This site collects all purposes of the building. Both the building and the site are a determinant factor for each other since the beginning of architecture. Today, the urban voids are anchored to one place. This connection comes to light by associations that occur with myths and historical events. “Architecture depends on a location… a built-up area of a building… Its metaphysical and physical foundation… Architecture is an adaptation that constitutes absolute meanings with respect to the place relatively.” Today, the concept of “anchoring” reveals a new product that comprises a different viewpoint instead of the common features of abstract space. Actually, the concept of anchoring could be thought as a philosophical metaphor. The essence of anchoring refers to an organic bond between concept and form. An intertwined relation phenomena and idea emerges with the realization of a building, which gives rise to the combination of internal and external perception. The Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, constructed in 1996 in Helsinki, Finland, is one of the most important examples that display the intertwined relation and the archetypal position between idea and phenomenon. While the project, located in the centre of the city, geometrically intertwines with a “line of nature” to the urban void, the name of chiasmus –the duality of space and matter– indicates the meeting of city and landscape, or nature and culture; it is a primarily contextual matter (Kang, 2013). The conceptual basis of the project intertwines with the geometry of the city and nature. This geometry is reflected in the form of the building. This cultural line links the building to the hall while this line creates a natural line between Töölo Bay and the landscape (Holl, 1996). Therefore, the interaction among voids is provided by a line of nature. In the Kiasma Museum, the site is constituted from the connection of diverse city grids. The form of the building connects both the landscape and water while a stream permeates into the design. The building also refers to the notion of “place-making” because the aim of the project is to anchor architecture to place with multiple layers. In doing so, a third situation emerges as a representative of hybrids among voids, which forms the metaphysical, physical and poetic viewpoints for the place. A “third situation” is actually a lived space and shapes the chiasmatic link for the urban context. This means that in this project, the use of urban voids constitutes a notable architectural landmark for people. In the dictionary, “to anchor” means to moor a ship at sea with an anchor. As a matter of fact, the term of anchor can be described as “the instrument that serves as the act of fixation and designates the act of fixation or the state of being fixed, which is often related with navigation. The anchoring of a ship means the way it is fixed to particular coordinates” (Yorgancıoğlu, 2004, p. 33). Accordingly, a building should be a part of the place and a situation. In that case, the anchoring of a ship becomes a symbol for this situation. The notion of anchoring explains the alteration of the quality of urban perception with the concepts of stability and variability. In addition, anchoring advocates that it is necessary for looking from two non-linear points to the urban space. In his essay named as “Modernizm’in Yerellikle Uzlaşma Arayışı: Holl (Modernism's Search for Reconciliation with Locality: Holl)”, Abdi Güzer (1995) mentions Holl’s concept of anchoring in which the exterior voids are not only the foundation of the building, but also the foundation of design concepts. In addition, the building does not always have a change in order to take part in music, film or art. Thus, every building has only one place. Similarly, in his article “The Murmur of the Site,” architect Rafael Moneo states that architecture can be thought of living since “without the presence of the site, a singular and unique site, architecture, and urban life cannot exist” (Yorgancıoğlu, 2004, p. 35). While each design is realized by depending on a specific situation, the design attitude would inevitably change within the variability of these situations. According to anchoring, the site of a building has a strong link with its place, thus it is unthinkable without its site. In other words, not only does this hybrid create space, but also carries symbolic, metaphysical, and poetic meaning. Within the context of architectural design today, the concept of anchoring describes how a building fixes itself upon the site on which it sits and gradually changes its surroundings. These changes in the environment are later reflected on the people that occupy these spaces.


Güzer, A., 1995. Modernizm'in Yerellikle Uzlaşma Arayışı. Arredamento Dekorasyon, 5(70), p. 73.

Holl, S., 1996. Intertwining: selected projects 1989-1995. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Kang, J., 2013. Through the Lens: Phenomenological Contextualism. The University of Auckland., s.l.: s.n.

Yorgancıoğlu, D., 2004. Steven Holl: A Translation of Phenomenological Philosophy into the Realm of Architecture. Middle East Technical University, Ankara: s.n.


Funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union. However, European Commission and Turkish National Agency cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


Project Coordinator

TOBB University of Economics and Technology

Department of Architecture

Sögütözü Cad. No: 43 Sögütözü/Ankara


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