Fantastic play cloud structures have arisen in the city of Istanbul. They are the iconic landmarks of a new open air playground on the roof park of Marmara Forum, a shopping centre in the Bakirköy district. The windows of the clouds magically change colours as daylight changes throughout the day. While in silence at the moment, soon the happy sounds of excited children will be covering the site.
Carve was asked to make a design for the playground on the rooftop terrace of Marmara Forum, 24 metres above street level. The terrace and the food court had been renovated to re-establish the Forum as a prominent shopping centre, and it needed a new playground that matches that allure.
The playground has areas designated to different age groups. Carve aimed at making a connection in the design through both form and experience: the experience of touching the clouds, being about eight storeys above the ground.
High profile and intelligent playground
The given assignment was to design a high profile playground, fitting to the renewed shopping centre. Children should be able to play in the shade if the weather is warm and sunny, and play under a shelter when it’s raining. In commercial areas and terraces often only limited space is available. This conflicts with the high number of children that visit these types of playgrounds, especially during peak hours. For that reason one of the starting points was to think in tall structures with big volumes, fully playable from the inside.
From small to tall
The playground consists of four areas that cater for different age groups: from small to tall there is a toddler space, a climbing dome, a larger ensemble of spheres and a near eight metre tall climbing tower with an internal slide. The interior of the clouds is completely furnished with play elements: children can climb, slide, lounge in a forest of hammocks and experience height from behind a window looking at the city’s skyline or by looking down through the climbing nets.
The white paint of the play clouds was chosen to adapt to the weather changes: it appears bright white on a sunny day and more grey on a rainy day. Often adults tend to think a playground needs to have an abundance of colours, but it is the children that give colour to the playground. The dichroic windows colour the in- and outside of the play clouds and also give extraordinary colours to the world you see through the windows from within. Magical realism experienced by children in real life.
Typically projects like this one, that are not off-the-shelf designs, take a long time to be designed, engineered and realised. A project is as good as its client. Behind Marmara Forum is a visionary client that knew they wanted something special. It is impressive to see how all parties involved have been working constructively, moving together in the same direction, to make the project come alive. Only in this way it was possible to complete such a project from the first sketches to realisation within a six months time frame.
Where in the past playgrounds were mostly facilitated by local municipalities, nowadays often commercial parties are the ones to take initiative in this field of (semi)public and freely accessible play spaces. Parties that really dare to offer children something spectacular. The playground of Marmara Forum is a fine example of such an initiative.
There were many technical challenges during the design and engineering process. For example considering the size of in particular the largest eight metre tall construction and the load limits of the existing roof. This issue was creatively solved by designing a self-supporting structure on top of a constructive point, spreading the loads at the same time. The spheres of all of the play clouds together are constructed out of hexagonal and pentagonal panels, 275 different panels in total.
Local craftsmen produced, assembled and installed the double curved stainless steel panels with incredible precision. The importance of working with local partners but more over stimulating local economy in a globalized world is evident to Carve.
Making use of these locally embedded partners and their networks was key to a superb and timely realisation.
Head in the clouds
Looking up from street level 24 metres below you can see the sun glitter on the play clouds. At night the clouds, with white light radiating from behind the window frames, are a beacon that can be seen from the surrounding areas of Marmara Forum, making an intriguing spectacle of lights. If it wasn’t for the current lockdown of all playgrounds in Turkey, we bet you that the children of Istanbul would already have occupied this place to get their heads in the clouds.
Marmara Forum Cloud Playground
Location: Marmara Forum Shopping Centre, Istanbul
Main Client: Multi (turkey)
Design Images and Text: Carve
Photography: Asli Dayioglu