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. Situated across from the Old City, the 110,000-square-meter area includes the Karaköy and Salıpazarı 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-kilometer-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 3.5-meter-wide strip of land that’s only in use when and where ships are docked, freeing over 60,000 square meters of accessible waterfront.
Above ground, Dror + Gensler opted to create a vehicle-free, pedestrian-only neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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. No building design: renders are illustrative and indicate the masterplan massing only.