- Designed: 2014
- Initially designed by Nasim Razavian as the graduation project for Master’s Degree diploma in Architecture, Delft University of Technology, Border Conditions graduation studio
- Location: Istanbul, Turkey
- Exhibited at the Third Biennale of Public Space in Rome
- Published in the Urbanistica Informazion special issue, (Edited by: Sepe, M., ISSN n. 0392-5005, May and June 2015, Published by INU, Rome, pp. 115-119 and 164-165)
- Honourable mention from The Board of Examiners of the Faculty of Architecture awards
Play-ground No 2: Wall of Happiness is a project from the play-ground series. It investigates the theme of retreat in an urban context through the notion of play and invites the city dweller to take their play instincts seriously.
The project itself operates through the play between multiple forces such as the movement of the wind, the power of the tides, the speed of the stream, the changing of the natural light, the emergence of ecosystems, the movements of the body, the changing of the viewpoint. Indeed, it operates on the very limit between such forces. It rethinks the conventions of the notion of boundary in architecture and the wall as its corresponding architectural element which is usually treated as the segregator of spaces. Here, the walls are not separators anymore but connectors that link several polarities: east and west, natural and industrial, old and new, and water and sky.
The project is designed to be located on the eastern coastline of Bosphorus, a peculiar stream in Istanbul which is the border between Asia and Europe and divides the city to two radically different sides. The plan partially follows the form of the eastern shore of this border. Moreover, the lot was chosen in a highly urban part of Istanbul in order to challenge the necessity of escaping from the city for gaining psychological restoration. It is intentionally positioned between multiple transportation hubs: the currently inactive port of Haydarpaşa, a ferry terminal, a bus terminal, and a parking lot. The project works as a filter, creating an experience of a walk on the coastline of Bosphorus for the people who are running between these transportation hubs. It invites the passer-by to slow down, stay, observe their environment, and play with it.
The project plays with the limits and is very sensitive to the movement of the body. The material is constructed through the welding of iron ribbed rods. The choice of the material made the possibility of creating a highly dynamic space. Both interior and exterior spaces radically change with the slightest change of the angle of view. Moreover, the space is constantly transforming with time. It is sensitive to different hours, seasons, and temperatures.
The superimposition of the parallel semi-transparent surfaces helps with achieving different gradients and opacities. One can compare this operation to the act of drawing on top of the existing scenery by simple technics of hatching, erasing, tracing, mimicking, and framing. For instance, through framing multiple elements in the environment, that travel from near and far, they become part of the project: Marmara sea, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the high-rises on the European side, the horizon, the sky, the port, and the pier are juxtaposed in a wunderkammeric space where play is celebrated and our hylomorphic thought is challenged. Through such forms of play, the space activates imagination.
One important aspect of the design is playing with the natural forces such as water and wind. The ground level is slightly elevated (21 cm) from the regular water level and it has the same level as Bosphorus' high tide. So during the high tide most of the spaces become wet except for the concrete islands, one zone along the northern axis, and spaces on upper levels which are accessible through ladders. Even during the low tide, there is a layer of water on top of the foundation. The ecosystems that emerge are seen through the meshed flooring. The zigzag form of the building and its foundation controls the speed of water. In the indents of the zigzag form where the speed is lower, Bosphorus can be transformed to a swimming/fishing pool. The hanging columns that move with the forces of water and wind make random musical compositions and celebrate the indeterminacy caused by this natural force.
Hidden spaces, labyrinth like organization and weaved resilient hanging zones add to the play-ground qualities of the project. The logic of the structure is the logic of load bearing walls which are constructed through layering of the surfaces: the more the layers the higher the load bearing qualities.
The pieces come to the lot prefabricated. They are hot- dip galvanized and painted with Powder Coating grey paint. The average prefabricated element’s size is approximately 1.3 x 1.3 meters. Since the construction is on the shoreline, at first, an impermanent dam should be constructed in order to dry the location temporarily. The next step is to install a mould and the first layer of the walls. Afterwards, mesh floorings are added piece by piece, then concrete is poured inside the mould for the foundation. When the concrete is dried, the mould can be removed, and other pieces of walls can be stacked on top. The pieces are connected vertically through male-female connections and they are fixed with screw and bolts on site. The upper level floorings are welded to the vertical elements on site and ladders are easily added. When the construction is finished the temporary dam is removed to let the water come back to the site. Special lamps have been designed for the building. They work with solar cells getting the energy at daytime and they can release enough light for approximately eight hours at night. Moreover, with a clamp they can be fixed to the columns of the small mesh and resting on the beams.
The space will be opened to any kind of transformation by its “users” who are not users anymore but active players and they activate the space through the process of re-creation. Different phenomena can emerge, for instance, people may start hanging objects from the mesh, or they make graffiti, which will change the space drastically, but this is part of the intention of the design to create a framework for bottom-up activities.
This project is a playground. It is an environmental exploration lab that seeks for the happiness of the city dweller. Being posited on the very border between Asia and Europe and through juxtaposing seemingly contradictory elements of its environment, the project materializes liminality. Through its blurry appearance, it critically challenges the existence of a defined border between any sort of binary aspects in favour of relationality. By creating a playground, it ironically materializes and questions the conventions of the notions of border and boundary, and through creating frames of the surrounding it reminds us of the things that are already there, yet we don’t see.