250-room residence to be built for Turkish president next to 1,000-room palace: Chamber of Architects

250-room residence to be built for Turkish president next to 1,000-room palace: Chamber of Architects

ANKARA – Doğan News Agency
250-room residence to be built for Turkish president next to 1,000-room palace: Chamber of Architects

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan poses inside the contentious new Ak Saray presidential palace on Oct. 29. AFP Photo

Construction at the controversial new presidential complex in Ankara has still yet to be completed, as a new residence for the president with an estimated 250 rooms will also be built in addition to the 1,000-room palace, the Ankara branch of the Chamber of Architects has stated.

“The complex does not only consist of an unlicensed palace. The residence where the president will live is set to be around 7,000 square meters, according to our calculations,” Chamber of Architects Ankara Branch Head Tezcan Karakuş Candan said, adding that the building will include approximately 250 rooms.

The complex has become an “unlicensed center” with a planned 4,000-person capacity mosque and a culture center for the residents of the palace - a “symbol of effulgence and expense" in the words of Candan.

“The architecture of the 4,000-person mosque is also overblown and a copy,” she added.

‘Cultural heritage under threat’

Candan also said the Marmara Mansion, used by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, could not be seen in the new palace plan.

“The absence of Atatürk’s house in the location plan means that it is at risk,” she said, referring to the building located at the same site and stressing that they were not allowed to enter the site of the complex to check for the preservation of cultural heritage.

“The president thinks a powerful country requires a big palace. The White House, which is 5,109 square meters, is one of the smallest palaces in the world. That [logic] would mean the U.S. is a small state. So a ‘big palace’ does not mean ‘big country,’” Candan added.

The vice president of the branch, Ali Atakan, said there was "no sign of the nation" in a building that is being called the “nation’s palace.”

The complex lies on a 15-hectare area inside the historic Atatürk Forest Farm, one of the most well-preserved green spaces in Ankara, though hundreds of trees were felled for its construction.

Controversy over the palace soared when Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek told a parliamentary budget committee last week that the total cost so far was 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($615 million), about double the original price tag.

'700,000 Turkish Liras to be spent monthly'

Meanwhile, the monthly energy spending of Ak Saray is set to be 700,000 Turkish Liras, according to Nevzat Çeltek, a former member of the Istanbul branch of the Chambers of Electrical Engineers.

Çeltek told daily BirGün on Nov. 13 that the electricity to be used by the new presidential building was estimated to be 10,000 kVA.

“This is the minimum power needed to support this area, if 40 percent of the building’s electricity power is switched on. We can make a calculation with these numbers and estimate that the electricity power spending of the building will be 700,000 liras monthly,” he said.

Meanwhile, Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said around 550 million liras from the budget for accelerating development projects in the country had been allocated for spending on the presidential building, speaking during Parliament’s ongoing budget debates.

The president’s office also issued a statement on Nov. 13 denying allegations that the new building was unlicensed and illegal. Presidency Deputy Undersecretary Metin Kıratlı stated that a license had been acquired for both the ongoing and completed constructions in the area.