A garden in the sky


In a chic bohemian neighbourhood on the European side of Turkey’s biggest metropolis lies Witt Istanbul Hotel, an 18-room corner property decked out with retro furnishings, monochromes and modern luxury. To add to its already unique personality, designers Aybike Zengin and Deniz Ucok – with the help of the hotel staff and a few volunteer guests – have now added a 160 sqm rooftop terrace with an eco-spin on it: a natural space for guests to relax on. The permaculture garden adds a new dimension to the meaning of “retreat”, as guests can order drinks up to the cozy sitting area while enjoying the views of Bosphorus, Topkapi Palace and Galata Tower.

The garden is built on the recognition that communities all over the world face challenges such as food security, climate change, and difficult inner-city living conditions. It is a model of community-involved, sustainable agriculture, demonstrating urban sustainability practices like vermicomposting, planting for small city spaces, and micro-green cultivation.To achieve the garden, Witt Istanbul Hotel worked with Aybike Zengin and Deniz Ucok who have backgrounds in landscape architecture and graphic design. These designers brought their knowledge gleaned from working with Geoff Lawton and Nick Huggins – two experts in the field of permaculture – to the hotel, leading the collective effort to completion in May.

Along with its ecological benefits, this also ensures that the hotel’s breakfast includes a refreshing mix of home-grown ingredients produced without artificials. Fresh strawberries for the fruit salad, raisins for the granola, lavender for the winter tea, arugula for the salads, and mustard greens for the herb omelette are just a few of the ingredients used. Wicking beds are also used for irrigation, meaning less water is consumed in the rooftop-to-plate process.