Last year, after several years of inactivity, Uzbekistan and Turkey began to actively implement a program of cooperation in various fields. The construction market, which is gradually being developed, including by Turkish companies, is no exception.
In today’s interview with a founder of the Turkish company Özgüven – Onur Özgür ÖZGÜVEN, we will talk about how Turkish business works here in Uzbekistan. We note that among the top 100 largest international contractors in the rating of leading international contractors, which is compiled by the American magazine ENR (Engineering News-Record) 15 contractors are from Turkey.
– Turkish construction companies are very well known all over the world. Tell us about your company, when it was created, how many projects were implemented in Turkey and other countries?
– Özgüven was established as a design & build company in Turkey in 2004. My brother Uğur Özer Özgüven took on the leadership of the architecture department and I lead the construction side and together we manage our company today. Unlike traditional architectural companies in Turkey, we focused on developing and implementing our own architectural and design solutions, adding new interesting elements to finished projects, and improving the quality of our work, which allowed Özgüven to become one of the companies generating the largest number of projects in Turkey. Till today, we have our signature on more than 400 projects in Turkey, most importantly Istanbul Finance Center. We have also participated in architecture and construction activities in Algeria. Today, following Turkey and Algeria we are operating in Uzbekistan – as a country that we consider a homeland. The most significant projects implemented in your country, in the formation of which our company participated, are Gardens Residence, Boulevard and, of course, Tashkent City Park and Nest One, among which we are the authors of projects of 3 lots, the 4th lot-Nest One we do «turnkey». We built 1200 of the social houses built in Sergeli on turnkey basis in 138 days. We are also about to complete the construction of 4,000 residences in Syrdarya. We are undertaking the construction of some other projects in Sergeli, Termez and Tashkent. We have signed more than 10,000 residences in Uzbekistan so far.
– In cooperation with your architectural and construction company Özgüven, the first skyscraper in Uzbekistan, Nest One, is being built. Give your assessment of the collaboration between Murad Buildings and Özgüven.
– First of all, it is a great pride for us to take part in the construction of a project in Uzbekistan such as Nest One that will be a symbol of the future of the country. We know that in the future, Nest One will be remembered as one of the symbols of change in Uzbekistan. At the beginning they invited us as an EPC contractor. As you know there is no similar project to Nest One. Then when Murad Buildings received an investment proposal for the project, we thought that we should be involved in the project with our trust and belief in Uzbekistan. Since the first day we took the decision of investment, we started the project with such thought in mind that we should make the project unique. We dreamed that the project would contribute to the future of Uzbekistan. Today I proudly say that Nest One is being built as the most unique concept skyscraper in the world. We have achieved a very harmonious working environment with our partner Murad Buildings since the first day of the project. Our cultural proximity and common sensitivities in our approach to the project encouraged us to accept the offer. During our partnership period, we are experiencing a very harmonious process in the works we carry out today. The common value we give to the project and the country has brought us together at a common point.
– There are not so many foreign companies remaining on our construction market yet. When have you decides to do business in Uzbekistan? And is Nest One your first project that you worked on in our country, or there were other projects before it?
– We entered Uzbekistan 3 years ago as a company. The first job we completed was the architectural design of the Gardens Residence project. Then we designed Boulevard and then Tashkent City Park. We built social residences in Sergeli. We built 4,000 houses in Sergeli. We completed the turnkey delivery of 1200 houses in a record time of 138 days. Then we started working on Nest One. We are currently working on different projects besides Nest One. Uzbekistan became our second home, where I spend one week a month, 3 weeks here in Turkey.
– Turkish builders all over the world conduct large and sometimes the most complex projects. Practice shows that the Turkish quality of construction is always transparent and, most importantly, a high – quality result. What business secrets allow Turkish companies to be so successful and stable?
– As a culture, we see all the work we do and the countries we work in as our own country. We know that the work we do will be carried to the future. We are implementing works in various climate conditions and ground structures in Turkey. We produce steady constructions on the sea, in marshy areas and in first-degree earthquake zones. At the same time, we do not consider technology investment as an idle investment, but we also follow new technologies in the world. We think that this point of view makes an important difference for Turkish construction companies. Also, our competitors in the world are very strong. China is the leader in the world. But they are aware that they are competing with Turkish construction companies. We are ahead of Europe in terms of location, construction technologies of Europe and company sizes. However, we never underestimate our competitors and we constantly follow what they do.
– Efficient use of space, the commercial feasibility of the solutions used, and the quality of life of future consumers are important criteria that strong and reliable players in the real estate market are guided by. You probably work or have also worked in other markets – in Europe, Russia, and the CIS countries. How do these markets differ and are there any similarities? What are the features of the Turkish real estate market?
– There have never been fixed needs and fixed design trends in the world. While user expectations were simple in the past, smart buildings became a need with the growth of companies, digitalization and the impact of social media. With the increase in land prices all over the world, more effective and functional use of lands became the current issue. Today, however, there are completely different needs. With the pandemic, differences occurred in both residential areas and the needs in office areas changed. During the pandemic period, people started thinking about how to spend time when they stay at home. They tried to find a way to protect themselves without breaking away from life. After the pandemic, it became clear how important social areas and hygiene inside the buildings are for the residents. Now everyone’s expectations from the living spaces have changed. We did works around the world, in Europe, in the Middle East and we still have discussions there. Believe me, there is no difference between the expectations of people in Uzbekistan and those in other countries of the world. I can only say that there are big differences between the level of awareness about the office system in Uzbekistan and the awareness in other countries. However, in the near future, I think Uzbek people will have serious expectations regarding the offices. With the opening of Uzbekistan to the world, business people who visit offices in other countries will change the expectations here.
– The construction cycle is rather a long process, and on this market, it is important not only to offer up-to-date products and technologies, but also to anticipate expectations, looking five to ten years ahead. Do you have a global view of world practices and trends in architecture and construction?
– You are absolutely right. What you announce as innovations in a project you started today can now become standard when the project is completed. For this reason, you need to consider the future, especially with the work you will do on the architectural side. No project ever done without vision of the future, will be able to survive. While planning both Istanbul Finance Center in Turkey and Nest One in Tashkent we have acted by considering the next 50 years to 100 years. First of all, we imagined how a person living in Nest One, which we designed in the pre-pandemic period, could stay here for a year without getting bored. We designed areas that they do not regularly need but might need when necessary. In addition, we supposed that we were building a monumental project and we thought of additions to make the lives of those living in this building for the next 10 years easier. We aimed to sign a project where the people living in Nest One 50 years later will say, just like in Trump Towers and the Empire State, how those who built this building thought about such details. When building the Financial Center, we worked with the same motivation, putting our faith in the future of Istanbul in it, so we included in the project important details that financial institutions may need very much. In this way, we have the honor of signing the project, leaving the world famous architectural companies behind. Nest One is also a vision project for us. A monumental building that guarantees us to be in the future of Uzbekistan. Nest One will be the symbol of change in the country as a vision project for us, not only for us, but also for the people who will live in Uzbekistan.
After that, we will carry out similar works. As the world turns, it will develop, it will change as it develops. Architectural trends will also evolve to meet the changing needs. From now on, we will work together on how to build more hygienic and safer common living spaces with the experiences people have gained during the pandemic process. We will produce more spacious living spaces. Thanks to the internet, that is, without being affected by someone else we will be able to turn the light on and off in our home with less contact, without touching the common areas, and we will be able to control the whole house without leaving our place. The items in our home will recognize our behavior and will perceive changes in our lifestyle and offer us options according to our needs. We will no longer buy a project without seeing it. Just like in Nest One, we will buy the goods we will buy by seeing and understanding them before they are built. From now on, we will experience the project that will shape our projects with virtual reality in architectural production processes before implementing it.
– Competencies in the field of construction, architecture, engineering and development are the key factors of a strong company. What other basic knowledge, in your opinion, should the head and management of the company have?
To excel at what you do, it is not enough anymore, to simply be good. I think that companies that do not follow the changes in the world and think that the developments in another country will not affect them will have no place in the future world. This is also a very important weapon that allows you to get stronger in competition. Whether you’re a construction company or a small business, if you don’t follow the world and your environment, you won’t be able to thrive and find yourself a place in the future. You should see the changes in time and work according to the future, not the present. This process will certainly not be the end of the world. This will be the historical beginning of a change. Those who cannot keep up with change will be eliminated. But those who know how to adapt will survive. Managers of companies know that they are growing their companies because they do good work. But they should not forget that they must constantly improve on the good things they do. If they continue to do the jobs that lead them to success by ignoring the change in the next 10 years, they will be doomed to failure. Those who see and catch the change will undoubtedly be more successful and get ahead in the competition.
– The domestic housing and office real estate market has been noticeably and positively changing in recent years following global trends. You can see how local companies are increasingly bringing out interesting, conceptual products designed to meet the high demands of the end user. Can you suggest and give advice on what promising directions Uzbek developers and builders should move in?
– Uzbekistan is changing and developing. We are not in the same Uzbekistan that is used to be. Now the needs of the country have changed. Social media changed the expectations of the Internet of Uzbek people. They also want a more modern, more functional one. When you introduce a new product to the market, they directly accept the new and functional one. An unstoppable process of change has started in Uzbekistan on the path opened by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The country has opened up. Uzbek companies work with large companies. They go to offices of big companies abroad. They see, travel and change. From time to time, we talk to other companies’ owners and senior executives. They share their plans. Some, as I just said, catch the change very well, and some insist on old-fashioned works. They have to catch the change of the country. For example, Nest One is very difficult to build, but it is a building needed for Uzbekistan that requires similar buildings. We see from media news that Nest One-like buildings started to be built. I am sure that in the next decade better designed buildings like Nest One will take place. My biggest recommendation for Uzbek companies will be to change and see scientific innovations and take positions accordingly.