Pearl of Istanbul | Turkey | Forum Studio


Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul has long been an amalgam of cultures and a record of civilizations past and present. Today, Istanbul is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Expanding democracy, global investment, and abundant tourism are reshaping the region for generations to come. The Pearl of Istanbul is at the heart of this transformation. Envisioned by Turkey’s business and civic leaders, championed by Istanbul’s Mayor, and designed by the urban planning team, the Pearl marks Istanbul’s arrival as a global destination.



Situated in a natural cove just outside of the bustling city center of Istanbul, the Pearl takes full advantage of its connection to the Marmara Sea, the natural beauty of the site’s topography contributing to the region’s reputation as a cosmopolitan resort. 


The centerpiece of the development is a marina, comprised of a string of manmade islands. The islands are conceived as an alternative to a utilitarian seawall; they harmonize with, and extend, the region’s natural landscape. 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. Connected by pathways and organized around a central “pearlescent” node, the Pearl’s islands form a calm harbor with more than 500 boat slips and commercial terminals for cruise ships. In the inner harbor, floating islands reduce impact on existing marine habitats and allow for future flexibility.   



The Pearl is no less ambitious on land. Sculptural towers rise along the shore, alternating with landscaped terraces that cascade towards the water, mimicking natural plateaus of the region. The buildings’ massing is designed to capture spectacular views of the marina — as lively at night as it is during the day — and the sea beyond it. Luxury accommodations will position the Pearl as a second home to the world’s elite. But plentiful hotel rooms and accessibly-priced apartments will ensure that the Pearl remains approachable to a broad public. The towers’ base will house retail and restaurants. Wrapping around the other side of the towers’ base, the development will present a welcoming facade to the surrounding community, with street-level retail, services, and traditional cafes that are the region’s hallmark. 


Pearl of Istanbul |Istanbul, Turkey | Forum Studio

Design Firm | Forum Studio, Inc

Image & Text Credit | Forum Studio

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at