Saliha Aslan

Published Jul 23, 2020


Among many definitions of ‘extension’ included in dictionaries, the most common definition of the term is an addition to enlarge something. In order to re-conceptualize a meaning of extension, some examples ranging from classical Western buildings to Early Islamic and Ottoman complexes and from different time periods spanning from ancient times to modern times can be elaborated. These various examples can be chosen to portray that architectural components such as domes, pilasters, arches, terraces, courtyards, open galleries, gardens, passageways, urban walls and massive projections act together to generate spatial experiences, visual connections, and conceptual narratives (Figure 1). The correlation between architecture and city can be discussed on three levels: (1) spatial extension, (2) visual extension, and (3) conceptual extension. 

From Ancient houses to modern houses, public spaces have been designed as extensions of private and interior spaces. Compared to the Classical and earlier Hellenistic Greek houses, the idea of domestic use of space as a way of display for the public gaze was relatively expressed in the houses in Delos as seen in the plan layouts which can be defined by “a symmetrical vista” from the entrance corridor, vestibule, extending through the peristyle to reach the main living areas (Nevett, 2010, p. 81). With a direct reference to Vitruvius, it is significant to emphasize that there was not a sharp contrast between the public and the private spaces, but between degrees of access; for instance, the public could visit only extensions such as vestibule, atrium and peristyle in a Roman house (Wallace Hadrill, 1994, p. 44). Similar to peristyle in a Roman house, hayat in an Ottoman house, which can spatially be integrated with iwans, rooms, and courtyards, was an architectural component extending outside.

A modern house, the Schröder House offers a new approach to architecture through the design of planes and openings as well as the enlargement of windows to undermine the boundaries and “spatial limits” between inside and outside (Friedman, 1998, p. 82). The efforts of Le Corbusier for new ways of the connections between the house and the exterior went into building houses on pilotis, presenting a roof terrace, and framing landscape by long horizontal openings on the façades (Figure 2) as “spatial extensions of the house” (Giedion, 1941/1967, pp. 524, 525). The idea of ‘transparency,’ which leads the extension of light, air, green areas underneath a building and roof gardens that open to the sky, is one of the focal points in the history of modern architecture (Vidler, 2000, p. 62). When considered city metaphorically as an architectural building and architecture as an integral part of the city, streets become the main extensions of buildings that oriented outward. As Jacobs (1961/1992) asserted, sidewalks can carry a meaning when they act together with buildings and activities on streets (p. 29). Similarly, in a Renaissance city gate, Porta di Santo Spirito, an impressive visual effect was also heightened by the contrast between “solids and cavities” - columns, niches, and archway - as well as by the harmony of the façade composition using “rhythmic alternation of concave and convex forms” while the spatial experience was provided by the passage underneath “a vaulted archway” (Rasmussen, 1959/1962, pp. 56, 57), which all introduce the conceptual extension itself under the concepts such as harmony, contrast and urban continuity.

Alternative extensions have been porticoes, porches, courtyards, and arcades formed by columns, piers and vaults in a range of different combinations. For instance, Kostof (1992) exemplifies “the atrium of the early Christian basilica” and “the sahn of the Muslim mosques” as “large urban courtyards” surrounded not only by the porticoes but by the buildings themselves for gathering (p. 127). As architectural components, the iwans of İsfahan Great Mosque and the entrances around the mosque are spatial extensions to facilitate urban integration. In the case of Divriği Great Mosque, the contrast between the horizontal axis from the entrance to the mihrab and the vertical axis from the ground to oculus at the top of the dome configured an ‘intermediary extension’ not only along the rows of arches but also along the axes integrating the spheres of the earth and heaven (Peker, 2013, p. 340). As an architectural component, oculus, a circular opening to the sky and urban climate can also be regarded as a conceptual extension between the world and beyond, carrying symbolic meanings. The extension as a volumetric rhythm developed by well-designed proportions can also be experienced spatially by arcades and portico in Süleymaniye Mosque, while it was reinforced visually by ascending order on the total mass composition. Reading the urban scene as a theatrical street at the turn of the eighteenth century, Cerasi (2004) defines architectural characteristics of mosque complexes with their visual and spatial extensions through (1) the expression of variety in architectural components in scale, form, and type, (2) solid-void compositions on boundary walls surrounding courtyards and gardens (Figure 3), (3) the emphasis on the corners integrating sebil and fountain, and (4) the use of ornaments as a search for novelty, all of which conceptually contributed to the overall urban cohesion. 

Rather than simply enclosing slabs with planes, opening windows, covering with canopies and then lightening, initiating a line, an axis or a path, advancing it to a plane, then to platforms, slopes and stairs through varying the lines, using angles, transforming volumes, and extending all surfaces to the third dimension to design various compositions may lead to the reconstruction of space and alternative extensions in architectural sense (Lyndon, D. & Moore, C. W., 1994, ix). The examples included here can be multiplied based on the question of how a space can be defined as spatial, visual, and conceptual extensions of spaces into each other. The extensions as generators of inner and outer spatial configurations can be constructed by experience, design, meanings, and narratives as well as new modern interpretations and space conceptions simultaneously, which make space more than just a semi-open space or a transitional space. The experience of extensions can be enhanced through concepts such as fluidity, continuity, flexibility, permeability, visibility, spatiality, and sustainability of spaces, regarding architecture with its quality of spaces, the capability of carrying meanings and its conceptual basis. Experiential space, more than form and function, may allow fluid movements through architectural components extending outside in a degree of spatial and historical depth. 





















Figure 1: Campidoglio, Rome, Italy (Lyndon, D. and Moore, C. W, 1994) 
















Figure 2: Salk Research Institute, La Jolla, California (Lyndon, D. and Moore, C. W, 1994) 








Figure 3: Drawings showing the integration of sebils to urban walls(Cerasi, Maurice M. (with the collaboration 
of Emiliano Bugatti and Sabrina D’Agostiono), 2004, p. 113) 


Cerasi, Maurice M. (with the collaboration of Emiliano Bugatti and Sabrina D’Agostiono) (2004). The İstanbul Divanyolu: a case study in Ottoman urbanity and architecture. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag in Kommission.

Friedman, Alice T. (1998). Family Matters: The Schroder House, by Gerrit Rietveld and Truus Schroder. In

Women and the Making of the Modern House -  A Social and Architectural History. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers.

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Jacobs, Jane. (1961/1992). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Books.

Kostof, Spiro. (1992). The City Assembled the Elements of Urban Form Through History. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Lyndon, D. and Moore, C. W. (1994). Chambers for a Memory Palace. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The MIT Press.

Nevett, L. C. (2010). Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Peker, Ali Uzay. (2013). Imprisoned Pearls: The Long-Forgotten Symbolism of the Great Mosque and Dar al-Shifa at Divriği. In Archaeology, Anthropology and Heritage in the Balkans and Anatolia. Ed. David Shankland, Vol. 3, İstanbul: The Isis Press.

Rasmussen, Steen Eiler. (1959/1962). Experiencing Architecture.  Cambridge: The M.IT. Press.

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Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Wallace Hadrill, A. (1994). Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


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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