Dror + Gensler, selected among several international shortlisted firms, have won an invited competition for the masterplan of Galataport, a vital site on the Bosphorus in the heart of Istanbul, Turkey. Situated across from the Old City, the 110,000 sq m area includes the Karaköy and Salipazari Quays and boasts a cluster of historic landmarks and contemporary cultural icons, including the Istanbul Modern. A significant portion of the site hosts an active cruise terminal and is closed off to the public due to security measures. Its 1.2 km long boardwalk is restricted to maintenance, deliveries, and the five to six thousand passengers that disembark each ship, depriving the city of breathtaking views.
Dror + Gensler’s winning masterplan, which is now under construction, opens up this stretch of coastline for public use through a revolutionary cruise terminal—the world’s first underground cruise operation. Made possible by a hydraulic boardwalk and gangway system invented in collaboration with Miami-based interdisciplinary firm BEA, the entirety of the cruise operation’s complex logistics takes place underground.
When a ship docks, the boardwalk hatch opens and transforms into a perimeter wall that secures the area. A gangway rises to meet the ship doors and transports passengers to the underground terminal levels. This innovative system reduces the cruise operation’s ground-level footprint to a 3.5m wide strip of land that’s only in use when and where ships are docked, freeing over 60,000 sq m of accessible waterfront.
Above ground, Dror + Gensler opted to create a vehicle-free, pedestrian-only neighbourhood that harmonizes with the city’s existing urban fabric and encourages bustling street life through a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, cultural attractions and offices. Small, pixel-like buildings flank intimate streets and step down in scale towards the waterfront, creating opportunities for rooftop terraces with beautiful views at every level. Large, open plazas respect standing monuments and facilitate moments of reflection and discovery. Elevated walkways weave the neighbourhood together, resulting in a multi-layered pedestrian experience. Abundant vegetation frames the experience throughout, creating a lush environment that blends old and new, city and sea.
Dror + Gensler believe the plan will bring new vibrancy to the region, while paying homage to its rich history. “Through the collaboration of our partners, we’ve been able to relocate the cruise terminal in an unprecedented way and design a plan that respects the cultural texture of Istanbul,” explains Dror Benshetrit, Principal, Dror. “It is our hope that the revitalized neighbourhood will reconnect local residents and visitors with nature, enrich their social life, and ultimately, improve their well-being.”
“The realization of our collective vision will transform a restricted commercial area into a world-class urban waterfront destination,” Oliver Schaper, Senior Associate, Gensler concludes.
The WAN Awards Future Projects category is now open until 30th June.