On the terrace of Marmara Forum shopping centre in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district, an ensemble of clustered white spheres invites children to climb, slide and lounge in a forest of hammocks. Referred to as the Cloud Playground, owing to the bulbous shape of the structures that appear like clouds hovering over the building, the project has been conceived by Amsterdam-based Carve studio.
The client wanted an open-air playground for children on the terrace of the complex that was recently renovated. A limited area and positioning of the space - at a height of 24 metres above the street level - became the starting point of the project for the architects.
Instead of horizontally expanding the playground, the Carve studio sought vertical forms with sizable volumes that children can explore from the inside.
Designed for children of different age groups, the playground comprises four areas: a toddler space, a climbing dome, a larger ensemble of spheres, and an eight-metre tall climbing tower. Children can navigate the interiors of these clouds using slides, hammocks, and climbing nets.
“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,” says the studio.
Adding to the whole experience are dichroic openings puncturing the shell of the clouds, and in turn creating a kaleidoscopic effect as light alternates through the day. Against the white body of the clouds, colours completely turn around the space: bright hues enliven the maze-like play area, and on the outside make the playground at Marmara Forum stand out as an attractive landmark in the neighbourhood.
“Looking up from street level, 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,” explains the design team.
Few significant challenges while undertaking this project included construction of the eight meter high cloud and the load limits of the roof. Carve studio intervened by creating a self-supporting structure that evenly spreads the weight. A total of 275 doubly curved stainless steel panels were used to sculpt the clouds, and these were produced, assembled and installed by the local craftsmen in Istanbul.
Carve studio attributes the smooth execution of the project to its clients: “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-month time frame.”
“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,” concludes the studio.
Weaving a simple yet fascinating narrative, the space not only brings an experience of a time in clouds but also sets an example for contemporary modular play areas for cities with limited open spaces.
Name of project: Cloud playground
Location: Istanbul, Turkey Client: Multi (Turkey) Architect: Carve Manufacturer: Playdium Area: 400 sqm Completion: May 2020