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Hydraulic underground boardwalk and gangway system reunites the public with the coastline in Istanbul

The bespoke system is part of a master plan by Dror and Gensler that creates the world’s first underground cruise operation.

September 14, 2017 |
The underground gangway rising

Courtesy Dror

For almost two full centuries, a 1.2-kilometer stretch of waterfront in Istanbul, Turkey, restricted access to the public. The area was being used as a cruise terminal, and allowed only maintenance, deliveries, and the 6,000 or so passengers disembarking from each ship to enter the fenced-off space.

A new master plan from Dror and Gensler, currently under construction, will reunite the general public with this stretch of waterfront by moving the terminal operations underground.

The feature that made this below-grade relocation possible is a first-of-its-kind hydraulic boardwalk and gangway system, invented in collaboration with Miami-based BEA Architects. When not in use, the system is completely hidden underground. When a cruise ship docks, the boardwalk hatch opens and becomes a perimeter wall to secure the area. The gangway then rises from its hiding spot underground to meet the ship doors and transport the passengers to the subterranean terminal levels. Once all passengers have disembarked and the ship leaves, the system retreats underground and the space is freed up for public use. The compact design requires a short strip of land that measures just 3.5 meters wide.

This clever solution gives more than 60,000 sm of accessible waterfront space back to the public. Plans call for a pedestrian-only neighborhood that features a mix of shops, restaurants, cultural attractions, and offices.


The gangway in its fully underground positionCourtesy Dror.


The gangway in the process of risingCourtesy Dror.


The gangway up and in positionCourtesy Dror.

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