The Peninsula Istanbul: Gardens on the Banks of the Bosphorus
On the historical Bosphorus in the middle of Istanbul’s vibrant Karaköy district, a lush, green park has been built around the new Peninsula Istanbul by the legendary HSH hotel group. Enzo Enea and his team designed the entire outdoor space and created a series of gardens – from the ground level to the rooftops – that flow in and around the diverse buildings of this vast property on the banks of the Bosphorus.
The brief for the landscape architecture was to integrate the Peninsula Hotel into its surroundings and to articulate the landscape as a connecting element around and between the four buildings. Yet while it looks as though the park was always part of this exceptional location, directly on the Bosphorus, previously there were no gardens. Because there was no natural soil, Enea built the garden on an underground concrete slab and engineered a novel system of step-shaped troughs to provide enough space and soil for the trees and plants to thrive. Over time, the troughs will overflow with greenery, creating the impression of a single, connected green habitat. Enea also conducted a thorough analysis of the site conditions: the data collected on light and shade, rainfall, wind, and temperature depending on the season informed the design and layout of the landscape. The findings from the analyses provided valuable information for the selection of suitable plants that can thrive and survive in the warming Mediterranean climate in the long term.
For the design, Enzo Enea and his team drew inspiration from the history of Turkish gardens and the historic neighborhood, as well as the local culture. The life of the people in Istanbul takes place mainly outdoors. Family and friends meet for a coffee, festive occasions are celebrated in big gatherings and preferably outdoors. The Peninsula Istanbul was intended to be a place where lavish parties are celebrated, but also a retreat for quiet, private moments. Elements of local culture are embraced by the design, while being interpreted in a cosmopolitan way for the Peninsula Hotels’ international audience.
The outdoor facilities include a total of three historic buildings and one new building. The site is dominated by the sea, and boats dock directly at the hotel’s quay. The water was incorporated into various sections of the landscape architecture as an important connecting element to the Bosphorus. Towards the shore, directly in front of the hotel, there is also an old city wall that was integrated into the walkways.
The central idea behind the landscape architecture concept was the envisioning of a lush, green park with secret spaces to discover. The park harmoniously links the different buildings and functions of the hotel. Thus, the landscape expands the living space around the hotel, offering different atmospheres, moods and hidden garden rooms. Another important feature of the concept is the sensual perception of the garden. With the planting of aromatic herbs such as Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis and Prostratus) and Lavender (Lavandula stoechas and dentata) as well as fragrant flowers, the park also becomes a sensorial experience.
Enzo Enea is known for his passion for trees and his long-standing expertise and original techniques for transplanting mature trees, which he has done here. Mature trees create a depth and character in the space that cannot be created with ground level plants. The selected trees determine the image of the park. Pistachio trees, (Pistacia lentiscus), strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) and cedar of Lebanon trees (Cedrus libani) create a pleasant microclimate and turn the park into an oasis in the middle of the historic city. The Judas tree (Cecris siliquastrum) creates pretty accents in spring with its pink and heart-shaped flowers.
The leaves of the honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos Shademaster) provide a particularly beautiful play of light in summer. In addition, plane trees (Platanus hispanica), crepe-myrtle trees (Lagerstroemia indica) and hop hornbeam trees (Ostrya carpinifolia) were also used. In this project, more than 250 mature trees were newly planted. They make an important contribution to oxygen production and the reduction of particulate matter and CO2, in addition to lowering the temperature and creating shade, while also increasing biodiverisity.
Bauhaus Building 2
The Bauhaus-style building houses the lobby, the heart of the new Peninsula Hotel. The café of the same name extends from the lobby to the shore of the Bosporus and harmoniously bridges the indoor and outdoor spaces. From the terrace, the view sweeps across the hotel’s private pier toward the Bosphorus.
The roof of the building features the public terrace with the Rooftop Restaurant & Bar Gallada, where Turkish-Asian cuisine is served. On hot days, guests can have their meals in the shade under pomegranate trees (Punica granatum) and enjoy the view of the sea. Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) wall planting diffuses its delicate scent, while Rosemary and other aromatic herbs in the understory planting enhance the sensorial experience.
Nearby, a small pond murmurs and gives the impression of being in the middle of nature. The glass pavilion in Art Deco style is another highlight of this roof terrace. Designed by Enzo Enea, it features ‘smart’ accordion windows that provide protection from the sun and wind. The side panels can also be open completely, depending on the weather.
To the left of the Bauhaus building is another historic building that was renovated in the course of the reconstruction. On the first floor facing the shore of the Bosphorus is the Bathing Garden. It offers private lounges and seats under the umbrellas directly at the Olympic-sized pool.
Another pool is also located on the roof terrace of the building. There, Grasses (Pittosporum tobira) sway in the breeze and Pine trees (Pinus sylvestris Watereri) provide cooling shade. Enea also created the pergola there, which captures the maritime atmosphere of the place and offers fantastic views of the Bosphorus and the Galata Bridge.
This building houses the residences and has another roof terrace. Strawberry trees and olive trees (Olea europaea) were planted to protect the privacy of the residents from views of the adjacent buildings. They originate from the Mediterranean climate zone and tolerate strong sunlight. At the same time, they provide shade and ensure a cooler climate on the terrace. Hidden niches give the roof garden an intimate ambience and allow the residents to find their own personal retreat.
The Ballroom is situated on the ground floor of this building and can be hired for festive occasions. Its adjacent outdoor terrace offers sufficient space for large celebrations. The hydraulically retractable giant umbrellas (models similar to those used at the pilgrimage site of Medina) provide protection from the sun and rain. They were specially developed and engineered by Enzo Enea in collaboration with a German company based in Hardheim.
Enea created a hotel kitchen garden on the roof of this building: vegetables, berries, fruits, herbs and flowers thrive here in over 100 raised planter beds. These ingredients are used directly by the hotel’s chefs. Another highlight of this garden is the outdoor kitchen with the adjacent flower meadow for a picnic or private dining. Besides the pomegranate trees, the pergola planted with wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) provides additional shade. This rooftop garden is a true paradise for bees with the numerous perennials that have been planted and enables the Peninsula Istanbul to produce its own honey. In addition to persimmons (Diospyros kaki), pomegranates, grapes (Vitis) and almonds (Prunus dulcis), there are also fragrant herbs such as Rosemary, Lavender and Thyme. A perfect set-up for a “farm-to-table” concept in the heart of Istanbul.