October 10 2011

“Taksim Belongs to Pedestrians” with Hans Venhuizen: Becoming Istanbul at SALT Beyoğlu

The Making Of - Taksim Belongs to PedestriansOn October 1, 2011, SALT Beyoğlu hosted the event “The Making Of – Taksim Belongs to Pedestrians,” moderated by Hans Venhuizen. The second of the English-language “The Making Of” events held at SALT, this  particular gathering discussed how Taksim Square could be utilized by pedestrians. Similar in the style of “The Making Of – Plans for Beyoğlu,” this workshop used the framework of mediator Hans Venhuizen’s “The Making Of” game to discuss the Turkish Prime Minister’s, Tayyip Erdoğan, announcement in June 2011 to pedestrianize Taksim Square. His proposal sets out to transfer roadways under Taksim Square, removing public transportation stops, and designating the square as a pedestrian zone, by 2023. Taking into account the historical uses of the space for demonstrations, and as a gathering point for festivities, sports, and social meetings, “Taksim Belongs to Pedestrians” explored the question: “Besides diverting transportation underground and replacing greenery with an old building, what other solutions can be offered to reorganize the heavy flow of people and traffic in Taksim Square?”

Combining this question with a combination of an ambitions and phenomenon, each listed below, concepts were further developed. Ambitions and Phenomena for “The Making of – Taksim Belongs to Pedestrians” (described fully at this PDF link) were created in part by Meric Oner, of SALT, they included:

Ambitions:

  • Facades;
  • Taksim Choreography;
  • Re-Frame;
  • Muhatap;
  • Re-Organize.

Phenomenon:

  • Write History;
  • Improvements that Worsen;
  • Unmistakeably Yours;
  • Fest;
  • Compromise.

Similar in content to the first of the series of “The Making Of” games, the group was divided into five color-coded teams: blue, yellow, purple, green, and red. The teams came up with the following concepts for pedestrianizing Taksim Square:

  • The Making Of - Taksim Belongs to PedestriansThe blue team came up with the concept “Reclaim Taksim Square” by closing off Istiklal Cadessi to traffic for a day, requiring individuals to use alternative forms of transportation, in order to “discover the potential” uses of the area;
  • The yellow team proposed “Open the Square,” by removing Marmara Hotel and opening up Taksim Square as an extension to the sea. Yellow team proposed that this would create more “dwelling” in the square, as opposed to its current “crossing” use;
  • Team purple suggested “Be Aware of What We Have,” by making Taksim Square a place to dwell, similar to the yellow team. However, they suggested rebuilding the barracks and making a shopping mall within it, pedestrianizing the square and removing the bus stops, and opening AKM 24 hours;
  • The green team, entitled “No Title, Just Square,” proposed diverting the current traffic and increasing pedestrian access, while increasing programming for the AKM building and square;
  • Team red proposed “Facing the Facades,” which proposed to make the current four inactive facades of the square – activated. ” AKM will have a screen which will show what is inside, the restaurants will extend their terraces to the square, the park will move into the square, and the ideal waiting space will be created around the monument.”

The Making Of - Taksim Belongs to PedestriansOnce each of the teams proposed their ideas, it was then time for debates amongst the teams. The red team found itself on the winning side, without any objection votes, however, they received the “golden objection” from the mediator, Hans, because there is “no such thing as no objections” according to him. So, then the blue and green team faced off on their objections, followed by the purple and yellow teams. There was a lot of opposition to the yellow team’s idea to demolish the Marmara Hotel. The purple team argued that the Marmara Hotel is part of history so it should not be torn down. The yellow team argued that “removing something is okay. [And that] plans to demolish Marmara Hotel and then build a new building in its place would be open to competition.”

The Making Of - Taksim Belongs to PedestriansUpon defense, the jury voted, with their voting card, either in favor, a green “Evet,” or against , a red “Hayir,” of the ideas presented, which led the team to be closer or further from winning. The final blow came when an additional dynamic was thrown-in. The Lobby. The team members were given lobby cards and then each member distributed the cards amongst the teams, based purely on personal choice or bias. The team with the most lobby power would then have their “Xs” removed and would be closer to winning. At the end of the game the red team was victourious with their concept of opening up the four facades of Taksim Square – even with the lobby votes.

Over the course of Becoming Istanbul, held at SALT, there will be The Making Of workshop every two weeks, each on a Saturday. Hans will lead another two sessions in English and there will be additional workshops held in Turkish, led by Hans’s partner, Mustafa Tazeoğlu. Full details for Turkish and English The Making Of events can be found here or on the SALT Facebook event page.

The following English language events will take place; and I look forward to covering them:

Hans is open to any initiatives that would like to use The Making Of game in Istanbul. If your group would like to do a The Making Of workshop, while Hans is in Istanbul, please do not hesitate contacting him. And for more information regarding The Making Of, purchase Hans Venhuizen’s book Game Urbanism or read a chapter from the book describing The Making Of.

Did you take part in The Making Of – Taksim Belongs to Pedestrians or another The Making Of game? We would love to hear your thoughts. Stay tuned for coverage of The Making Of – New Housing.

Renée van Staveren

Renée van Staveren is the Founder of Global Site Plans. She holds a M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She also holds a B.S. in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College. Prior to establishing Global Site Plans and The Grid, Renée van Staveren was an Assistant Planner for A-M-M-A Transit Planning and the Program Director for Planet Green. You can find Renée blogging about featured environmental design firms, providing free website critiques, local events in Istanbul, Turkey, plus helping you achieve industry distinction through innovative discussions. Renée currently lives in Istanbul, Turkey; adding to the list of places she has traveled and lived.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 9:58 am and is filed under Architecture, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Renée van Staveren, Transportation, 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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