June 14 2012

An Architectural Analysis of Mass Housing Administration’s (MHA) Urban Renewal Projects in Istanbul, Turkey

A Public Housing Project in IstanbulIn a special advertorial sponsored by Turkey’s Mass Housing Administration (MHA) in one of the issues of the UN-HABITAT’s Urban World magazine, MHA states that transforming existing slums “makes up approximately 10 percent of our total housing development. […] Moreover, it should be emphasized that wherever we build housing, we take into consideration the great variation in climate and natural environment of our country, which enables us to make a contribution to the development of regional architecture.”

The statement above is enough to make an architecturally-aware citizen of Istanbul burst into laughter, as the housing projects undertook by the MHA are seen as generic type, multi-storied piles of concrete. This is not just me saying that; Sukru Kocoglu, the chairman of Syndicate of Turkish Construction Industrialists and Employers (INTES) pointed out in a recent interview that the MHA should “give up making cities look like one another by constructing buildings that are similarized in singular typology and are devoid of aesthetic appeal” because “the identities of cities can be maintained as long as the unique fabric of that city stays intact.”

An MHA Housing Project in Istanbul

This might not seem directly relevant to the discussion of urban renewal and relocation at first glance, however, if one was driving through the city in the east-west line, one would clearly witness this singular typology that is now spreading all over the peripheries of the city; disregarding the local architectural qualities. I believe a careful analysis of (1) the socio-cultural structure of the society, and (2) the design solutions that the people come up with according to their needs, is essential to ensure the success of an urban renewal/relocation project. As one of the most prominent urban planners in Turkey, Ilhan Tekeli points out, the development in a society results from socio-spatial processes, and it is important to see that it is not possible to have the final say in the spatial development by isolating it from this whole.

What threats would decoupling the spatial development from the social reality bring about, and how can these be avoided?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Erman Eruz

Erman Eruz is an undergraduate at Princeton University where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Civil Engineering, along with a certificate in Urban Studies. Having grown up in Istanbul, Turkey, he is interested in a wide variety of topics related to the built environment and how people interact with it. Erman is fascinated by the interdisciplinary relation between architecture, engineering and urban planning, and his interests include squatter settlements, architecture of the 20th Century, sustainable planning, bonds between architecture and other forms of art, and global and local aspects of cultural identities.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2012 at 4:55 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “An Architectural Analysis of Mass Housing Administration’s (MHA) Urban Renewal Projects in Istanbul, Turkey”

  1. New Sustainable Approaches by the Mass Housing Administration (MHA) of Turkey | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] they have begun to dominate the pattern of cities. As mentioned by Erman Eruz, in his previous blog, MHA buildings change the characteristics of regions and construction ignores the [...]

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