"Historic buildings are my passion"Interview with Deniz Alkan

Her profession: architect. Her passion: renovations. Deniz Alkan, conservation specialist and owner of the Hotel Turkish House in Istanbul, on her fascination for historic buildings.

Restauration expert and hotel owner: Deniz Alkan in the courtyard of the specially converted Hotel Turkish House in Istanbul (© Haydar Erçin)

How comes that you acquired the Turkish House?

Historical buildings are my great passion. I always look at them with admiration and love. In the meantime, I have been involved in the renovation of around 200 historical buildings. So it made sense to acquire and restore such a building. At that time, my son was studying business administration and tourism. He came up with the idea of running the house as a boutique hotel.

What makes a successful renovation?

A successful renovation does justice to the building. The original materials and the original building plan are preserved, restored and transferred into the future, made it usable again. It may be necessary to find a new function for the building if the original one is no longer possible. But the new function must also respect the building plan and the building's capacity for use.

What challenges did you encounter during the renovation?

The building is located on the historic Sultanahmet peninsula. You always have to expect archaeological remains here. And so it was: during the renovation, we came across wall and building remains from the late Byzantine to early Ottoman period. For the owners, such a discovery first of all means a halt to construction. Everything has to be investigated, documented and permits obtained. Moreover, the construction work must not damage the artefacts. In the end, it is our historical and cultural heritage.

What was particularly important to you in terms of architecture and design?

We see ourselves as hosts. It is important to us to welcome our guests with the warmth and hospitality typical for our culture. Various structural elements and furnishings also contribute to this atmosphere.

The rooms of the Turkish House Hotel are equipped with Geberit products. What convinced you?

There is a number of things in favour of Geberit: for one thing, we opted for dual-flush systems in order to save water. On the other hand, our bathrooms don't have standard dimensions, which is why individual and flexible solutions were necessary. In the shower, for example. Geberit also offered suitable products for this: The CleanLine shower channels can be cut to size as needed. The slim iCon toilets also fit perfectly into the various room sizes. Above all, however, both the service and the quality of the Geberit products convinced us.

About Deniz Alkan
Deniz Alkan is a Turkish architect, designer and conservation specialist. She studied architecture at the Technical University ITÜ in Istanbul. She specialized in the preservation and restoration of architectural monuments. Together with her partner she founded a company engaged in the restoration of historical buildings. At the same time, she is the chairman of the Association of Historical Environment and Building Conservationists and a member of the board of directors of the Istanbul Chamber of Architects. Since 2022, she has been running the Turkish House Hotel in Istanbul's historical Sultanahmet district as a family business.

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