September 10 2012

Are the Urban Transformation Projects in Turkey Successful?

Urban transformation is dedicated to creating and implementing comprehensive revitalization programs in neighbourhoods. In general, it is the re-handling of  urban development through socially, economically, and spatial aspects. This includes the destruction and rebuilding of problematic areas in the city in order to make them healthy and live-able.

Due to the influx of immigration communities into the metropolis of Istanbul, from cities such as Ankara and İzmir, squatter areas (called gecekondu’s in Turkish) in the city have destroyed the urban pattern. The aim of ‘’Ankara North Enterance Urban Transformation Project,’’ one of the urban transformation projects, is defined as development, embellishment of the physical condition and environment, assurance of a better arrangement, and an increase of living conditions in the region specified.

Ferhat Ertürk, the general manager of TOBAŞ specified that Ankara North Entrance Urban Transformation project was a good urbanization action and six-thousand gecekondus in the region would be destroyed, with modern buildings built in their place. He also emphasized that many social and recreational areas would be built, together, with 2,400 households. This area connects the airport to the city and is important for providing a foreigner’s first impression of Istanbul. Before the transformation project, this was a squatter area without any infrastructure.

In regards to this project, architects and urban planners declare that it was completed with an inappropriate approach, even though this project is appreciated and rewarded by the world. One of the most important reasons for the disagreement is that many developments were and are designed without researching the social, cultural, and economical characteristics of the people living there. For a good transformation project, the area where the transformation is performed should be researched. This includes the peoples’ needs, life-styles, living conditions, conditions of built environment, in order to design better places through interdisciplinary study. But, on the contrary, it is seen that all transformation projects, including this one, even in different places in Turkey, generally have one type and the same solutions. The economical, social, and cultural factors are not considered and the focus is to simply transform the physical. However, whether the physical transformations are also effectively executed is up for debate. Urban planners argue that places produced by the transformation process are unfamiliar with the spirit and region of the city.

What are some of the precautions that have to be taken in order meet the needs of the users and to make this process more efficient?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Selin Mutdoğan

Selin Mutdoğan holds a PhD degree in interior architecture and environmental design from Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey. Her dissertation was focused on sustainable residential interiors and research containing not only cases from Turkey, but also well-known green bulding certification systems used worldwide. She currently works at the same university as a full-time instructor. She is strongly concerned about sustainability, within all dimensions.

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 10th, 2012 at 4:33 pm and is filed under Environmental Design, Housing, Infrastructure, Social/Demographics, Transportation, 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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