Architect-designed floating garden captivates in Sea of Marmara

Studio Ossidiana crafts a playful and sculptural floating garden, Büyükada Songlines, as part of the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial

Studio Ossidiana's floating garden
(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)

Alessandra Covini and Giovanni Bellotti of dynamic design and architecture practice Studio Ossidiana have released the first visuals of their striking floating garden; Büyükada Songlines, a playful and sculptural architectural garden piece, is part of the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial and has just started cruising off the coasts of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus, connecting Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands with the city’s Asian and European shores. 

The piece takes inspiration from travel writer Bruce Chatwin’s diaries, explain the team. Consistent with Studio Ossidiana's explorations with forms and material, the garden is informed by ‘the unique Mediterranean microclimate, the evolving migration patterns of birds, the depletion of fish, the interferences between spontaneous, cultivated, native and non-native species, the transplantation of corals, the debates on banning horse carriages and the conservation of the islands’ pine and maki forests within an evolving physical and social climate', say its creators.

sculptural urban furniture and paving at Studio Ossidiana's floating garden

(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)

Drawing also on traditions, and architectural and design narratives linked with water, from Homer to Aldo Rossi, this Mediterranean landscape is inhabited by three installations. ‘[There is] an earthly platform, representative of the soils of the islands; a marine terrazzo medallion, made with shells and rocks gathered in Büyükada; and a grid of perches and bird feeders, for migratory birds and gulls to rest upon,' explain Covini and Bellotti. 

Titled Empathy Revisited: Designs for more than one and organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) the biennal runs from now until November 2021 and is sponsored by VitrA and supported by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Borsa Istanbul. Curator Mariana Pestana and director Deniz Ova have overseen a number of events, of which this floating garden is one.

Once the biennal is over, the piece’s planting and architectural elements will be donated and permanently installed in Büyükada, the largest of the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara.

Studio Ossidiana's floating garden as seen from above

(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)

Studio Ossidiana's floating garden with sculptural mini totems

(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)

Studio Ossidiana's floating garden and its native mediterranean plants

(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)

overview of Studio Ossidiana's floating garden in full bloom

(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)

sculptural paving at Studio Ossidiana's floating garden

(Image credit: Riccardo de Vecchi)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

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