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Architectural Design, Urban Design, Archeological Site, Museum Design


Designing a Phenomenal Space by Typological and

Morphological Reconstructions

A Museum and Archaeology Center in Ancient Lycian City Limyra

Finike, Antalya, Turkey. 2022

Design Team: Irem Karabulut (Dramatic Architecture), Maria Ekhina

...the phenomenal space is used to remind a memory from the past and create a memory for the future, then the elements of the ancient city, their relations and the language that they create analyzed to used in space design...


Another Facade Alternative for the New Monument

Lymira Museum Project aims to represent the perception of a historical place, forming an idea that can be designed using historical and architectural evidence. This approach can fulfill the current needs of providing built space for exhibition and research activities while reminding and creating experiences similar to the ancient city. The goal of the project is to create ‘A Bridge to Memory’ through the atmosphere, as an ideological design concept of Phänomenaler Raum, in spatial concept as a syntactic principle of the relationship between spaces: Raum Entwurfslehre.



Limyra is an ancient Lycian city located on the foothills of Tocak Mountain inland from the ancient Lycian harbor city Finike which acted as the capital of Lycia for many years in Antalya, Turkey. It has been inhabited since at least the 5th century BC, cited in Iliad by Homer. Lycia consisted of city-states and had an important geopolitical position between Persia and the Delian League. Limyra, one of the City states, was located in the eastern of other important cities, Patara and Santos, and the western of Olympos.

Limyra has a unique character formed by multicultural layers and architectural languages. The ancient city has been influenced by different cultures examined in different periods; the Greco-Persian period, the Hellenistic period, and the Roman period in ancient history. Later some structures were added during the Ottoman rule and the contemporary Turkish period. Limyra consists of 2 cities side by side surrounded by walls and an acropolis.

Limyra was a Lycian city that became the capital when Pericles from Limyra became King. The dependency of Lycia was changing through two different significant powers, Persia and Athens, constantly. After Alexander the Great died, Ptolemais II of Egypt took Limyra. He ruled the city-state until Syrian King Seleukos III took over and started to rule Lycia. Limyra connected to the Roman Empire as the Romans defeated Syria. After 4 AD, Gaius died in Limyra, an important event for the region. Limyra is considered a remarkable Jewish and Christian community during the Roman and Byzantine periods. When the Arabs invaded Konstantinopolis in the 7th century, Raids damaged the city since Lycia was on their routes. In 1390, Ottoman Sultan Beyazıt took Limyra. Later in 1919, Italians invaded Antalya, while Anatolia was mostly invaded in WWII. Lastly, the Ottoman Empire’s rule ended with the Turkish Republic’s establishment in 1923 by Ataturk.

An open-air archaeological site Limyra is in a tourist town with no museum. It is kindly abandoned since people go there and swim in the Lymros river that floods all over the archeological site. That is obviously magical but not good for the ruins. Excavations at Limyra started in 1969 under Jürgen Borchhardt from The Austrian Archaeological Institute. Borchardt explains the need for research and exhibition spaces in his book about Limyra in 1999. Today the excavation team, led by Dr. Martin Seyer, who guided us on our field trip and explained the site’s needs and interpretations to solve the problems in the past, still feels the need for a research center. They still sleep in the open air, under simple and temporary structures covered with a metal sheet. In the process of his studies, a german urban designer and architect, Klaus J. Schulz, proposed a project of research village while performing ‘experimental archeology’ as Schulz himself defined to us, but his project was only halfway built. Borchard’s book about excavations, Schulz project proposal, Seyer’s explanations, and our observation from the field trip defined our program: which are a research center, additional storage buildings, workshops, an accommodation area, and a museum with tourist facilities since significant findings are displayed in the Antalya museum, far from their context and environment.

Klaus Schulz tried to recompose the image of the ancient city. For the master plan, he recovered the existing ancient axis all over the site. He tried to recreate the atmosphere and the historical continuity, like placing the storage buildings leaning on Roman city walls and placing the library following an important monument, Heroon of Perikles, by reconstructing the Hellenistic axis and a Lycian house using traditional methods. This attitude of keeping the historical continuity is also witnessed by the works of one of the most important modern Turkish architects Turgut Cansever in Demir Houses and later by his children in Amanrüya Hotel in a region close to Lycia. The projects are a recreation of a neighborhood made by different pavilions and buildings, recreating space sequences and relationships of different typologies recovered in the area. Cansever is an architect who also worked with Minissi for the Late-Hittite period open-air Karatepe Aslantaş Museum in Turkey.

Limyra’s urban growth and fall depend on the hydrological environment. Scientific analysis shows that the city was divided in two in the 4th century BC due to the Lymros river. Both cities were abandoned because of a rising groundwater table, probably triggered by an earthquake. Today Limyra is relatively underwater. The city walls from different periods represent the city’s growth as the Lycian, Hellenistic, and Roman walls through the south show the north-south growth axis. The hill and Lymros act like a border that the city settled in between. While the city walls follow Lymros, the river divides not only the city into two but also the buildings, such as the bishop’s church. Division is an important characteristic of Limyra. Not only water but also some other elements play roles in dividing. For example, Ptolemaion, a Hellenistic monument, was used as construction material for Roman walls and divided by it. The evidence shows that in Limyra, reuse is frequent. Former buildings have been used for their materials and as part of new buildings. The urban pattern shows there was a dense fabric once.

The city of Limyra is defined by numerous and various axes, and all are signed by three monuments: Heroon of Pericles, built in the Lycian period, Ptolemaion, built in the Hellenistic period and Cenotaph, built in the Roman period. Those axes sometimes turn and break the rigidity in the city. The absence of documano and cardo evidence defines the differences between Limyra and other cities of its time. So, in this typological and morphological analysis, we have attempted to understand the complex formation of a city by simplifying and schematizing. The elements and their relations allow us to define spatial sequences that create the ancient city. Limyra, with its multi-architectural and cultural layers, seems to frequently adopt and accommodate changes since nature was always an important input with floods and earthquakes, as well as the political conflicts in geography that resulted in cultural influences.

In the end of the analysis we decided to reconstruct the tranquil and sophisticated atmosphere of Limyra. Architectural references of typologies and morphologies have been in the design process as well as the water, orange trees, and Limyrian stone from ancient quarries still functioning. Since Limyra is already composed of two cities and not to interfere with archeological findings, we decided to create the third one that limits the archaeological risks and gives the possibility of continuing this growth process characterized by Limyra so far. So our interpretation is just the next layer. We are continuing this idea of the city and the idea of experimental archeology to fit new needs. In this way, while avoiding interference with the ancient city, the uniqueness of the Limyra can be represented in a contemporary context through typological and morphological reconstructions by the spatial concept as a syntactic principle of the relationship between spaces. According to Krier, Venice is Venice today due to the limitation of urban growth by water. We selected the site close to the Lymros river following organic expansion so that the borders of the river and the ancient city walls define the third Limyra. Access to the site has been provided from the east by existing roads and a bridge. And we decided to pedestrianize the road between the theater and the ancient city since it was a barrier.

The first idea is to continue the roman colonnade street till the Lymros river. This axis divided the new Limyra into two precisely the way the old Limyra was divided into two. The eastern part is dedicated to the researcher village with the more natural area, and the western part is to the museum and research activities. The proportions from the ancient city determined important points on the street. The street has been inclined to get water in the city in a controlled way keeping the peculiarity of Limyra that is divided by water. All the axes have been selected carefully from the ancient city and arranged to represent the morphology of Limyra, keeping its irregularity with broken axes, except one. We are proposing a new axis to represent our new layer connecting the center and an old roman bridge on site. Plausible dimensions of the ancient agora define the dimensions of the piazza created on the Schulz axis. Like formerly, a new monument signifies the new period. Historical continuity on dimensions, rotation and function, and relation with surroundings is preserved as well as phenomenal repetitiveness such as the water and division.

The intersection of the three axis, Hellenistic, Schulz, and West City Axis, forms the center of the Monument. Ptolemaion with walls defined the scale of the Monument and its orientation on the plan. In contrast, the Cenotaph’s dimensions and orientation define its courtyard oriented to the Hellenistic axis. The water channel divides western town and the Monument in two as Ptolemaion is divided into two by city walls, and Limyra is divided into two cities by water. The arms of the channel also give visual continuity to the broken axis on both sides. The first museum building, the Lycian, is placed between the old city entrance and the new Monument, defining the piazza. The arrangement of building typologies continues with other museum buildings selected from the ancient city according to their periods, importance, form, and new functional needs. The flow of visitors and the relationships of selected original structures have affected the location decisions. For example, the ottoman museum has been located far from the piazza since the reference building was built outside the ancient city, representing the historical gap.

After the museums, markets, workshops, and offices, an accommodation area with an ancient city view and access to a recreational area has been located. The city design has been completed by surrounding it with modern stoa, acting as transparent city walls defining the borders. The articulation of structures to walls was represented by the storage building close to Schulz storage, a bath at the end of Colonnade street, and a scenery amphitheater that merges with Limros seasonally as water level increases. Pools have been introduced in many places to keep the atmosphere while the orange trees are allowed to get into the recreational area with exposition.

The Lycian museum has been designed with different typologies from the fortress. The courtyard idea has been kept. Some Lycian tombs have been added to the courtyard to exhibit singular important artifacts inside. The wall thicknesses rep- resent the construction techniques of that date. The Lycian structures have been analyzed for wooden roofs and the ornaments on facades as the ratios referred respectively. The thickness of the walls gives the possibility to use niches for expositions with natural light chimneys. For the Hellenistic museum, a plan typology that follows the Hellenistic axis has been selected from the western city. The wall thickness again was kept, and it represents how it decreased compared to the Lycian structures. The ornaments inspired by Ptolemaion take the light into the structure. The museum is located on the longitudinal side of the piazza across from the Lycian museum. Roman plan typology of the Domus has been selected from the east city, keeping typology and fundamental characteristics of the Domus, such as the atrium with new contemporary configurations. The relationship between the museum and the Monument creates a narrow street providing a human-scale town experience sim- ilar to ancient Lycian streets. The Ottoman Museum was built by referring to Bektashi structures outside the eastern city. The museum has been placed in the inner parts of the block in the third Limyra rather than directly facing the main streets or piazza. The opening is designed to emphasize verticality, and the door is divided into squares as in otto- man and Turkish early modern structures. The design of the new Monument was derived from structures that were built in Limyra in different periods, as mentioned; plan, orientation, height, and stone clad- ding proportion from Ptolemaion, the courtyard orientation and dimension from Cenotaph and courtyard facade from Lycian tombs. The tower is designed in wood, referring to Lycian architecture. The stepped base repeats as a thin line, as can be seen as repeating in Hellenistic and Roman structures and contemporary structures by Schulz. The historical continuity of architecture is also preserved today.


To emphasize the Lycian technique, we used the rhythm of the beams to prevent overexposure to classical elements. The ratio of openings and dimensions between each reference antiquity. Brass material is used to draw the baseline and balustrade while highlighting beams. In this way, wooden structural elements are well protected as they create the ancient rich color of gold. The water channel, which represents the city walls of Ptolemaion, divided the whole building into two. The new Monument is designed as a library and contemporary ceramic art exhibition area since it represents today. The situation and relation the thermal bath creates with the city walls have been recreated. The new bath structure and typology repeat the ancient thermal bath while it merges with a new stoa that works as the city walls. Its location provides a unique atmosphere with a tranquil view of the river and the orange fields. The bath’s interior organization refers to the ancient bath next to the theater since the plan typology is well preserved and understandable.


The aim of this study is not to replicate the image of a city in the past. Instead, to create a new image that developed through reality by interpreting sources today, an idea of a contemporary Limyra. Limyra not only represents the eras of Lycian, Roman, or Hellenistic, but it contains all. And now, it also represents our time. In the act of a concept that can be described as a statement of the relationship between understanding-representing of the idea by architects and perceiving-experiencing by both designer and the user, first, the phenomenal space is used to remind a memory from the past and create a memory for the future, then the elements of the ancient city, their relations and the language that they create analyzed to used in space design in our project.

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