Fourteen miles west of Istanbul’s Atatürk airport on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, a pearl looks set to rise out of the water. Designed by Chicago firm Forum Studio, the mixed-use development covers 1,660,000 square feet, offering close to 1,500 residential units and a 500 boat marina.
The marina comprises a circular array of artificial islands. “The architectural concept derived both its form and defining character from the natural environment of the Marmara Sea coast,” said Erik Andersen, design principal at Forum Studio. “The islands are conceived as an alternative to a utilitarian seawall; they harmonize with, and extend, the region’s natural landscape.”
A “pearlescent” node that projects colored light beams into the air acts a visual focal point and hub in the center of the arrangement. The marina will also include an innovative botanical garden and a Marmara Sea research center that, according to Andersen, will “enrich the community with opportunities for research and learning.”
Low-rise volumes and a host of landscaping features make up the majority of the marina, facilitating undisturbed views out to sea for those living in the high-rise dwellings on the natural shoreline. “Changes in scale—from the monumental to the intimate—accommodate a variety of uses that will include nightlife and entertainment as well as family-friendly activities and academic marine research facilities,” said Andersen.
Andersen explained that a careful study of the ecology of the shoreline context “informed and inspired many landscape and sustainable design strategies.” The “dense,” pedestrian-friendly community is “organized around a network of landscapes that utilize native plants and natural stormwater systems for collection and reuse.” Andersen elaborated on Forum Studio’s approach: “We studied the project as a series of interconnected systems similar to a living organism. Each system informs and supports the other. The intent was to optimize performance in the way nature does with every living organism and every natural ecosystem.”
Currently, the project is going through initial municipal approvals for the land development. The schedule for groundbreaking is yet to be determined.