ISTANBUL – Perched on the roof of a high-end shopping mall in Istanbul, Trump Cadde – a collection of colourful and haphazardly stacked containers designed by GAD – fulfils the client’s brief for a more exciting, urban food court and retail area down to a tee.

Accessed directly from the shopping centre below, the bazaar-like ensemble occupies the building’s roof terrace and itself spreads out over two levels. The first level consists of a series of narrow, intersecting pathways leading to an open air-plaza, while the second level consists mostly of expansive terraces, with fewer containers providing access and services.

‘We chose the container – with its industrial and rough aesthetic – to create an urban, contemporary atmosphere and contrast and thereby enrich its surroundings. Furthermore, the container as a generic, standardised unit is a great passe-partout for the interiors of the 25 units within the project and their eclectic appearances, while framing and unifying them at the same time’, says Jonas Kirsch, an architect involved in the project.

Despite appearances, the project’s relaxed and spontaneous atmosphere is the result of a combination of a set of regulations and intensive artistic collaboration. ‘There are guidelines for the tenants regarding the area for graphics, size of menu boards and signage to keep and guarantee a certain aesthetic. Furthermore, we invited two international artists to implement their works and we developed a catalogue of stencils in collaboration with Turkish artists,’ he explains.

The other major challenge was purely technical: the roof terrace was not initially designed to support an additional, two-storey container landscape. Therefore, the architects had to pay very close attention to statics, building services and circulation, aligning them with the existing building as well as their own creative goals. ‘On the other hand, floating above the urban fabric – only dealing with the artificial environment of the mall – gave us a certain freedom in design,’ Kirsch concludes.

Photos Alp Eren