May 16 2012

Urban Relocation in Istanbul, Turkey: What is Being Done Wrong?

Istanbul Turkey

Urban relocation is often used, whether justifiably or not, as a part of the urban renewal project of Istanbul in its endeavor to become a “world-city.” As the main actor to carry out urban renewal projects, Mass Housing Administration has the authority to relocate squatter communities whenever it’s deemed appropriate, and usually these communities are relocated to public housing projects in peri-urban areas.

One example is a community that was located in an area called Ayazma which is expected to hold international events, and the relocation of this settlement was a part of the cleaning-up and urban transformation process. In their new homes, the community was exposed to multiple layers of exclusion – social, economic, spatial and cultural due to factors such as:

-          The area is occupied by a highly nationalist population, which creates potential and actual violence since the relocated community is mostly Kurdish;

-          They can’t take advantage of a certain payment mechanism called veresiye, which is a form of economic transaction where the payment is deferred, with the expectation that the debt will be paid periodically, depending on the income of the customer, because the stores around the area don’t accept such transactions;

-          The people are financially unable to do grocery shopping and they long for the gardens in their old neighborhood on which they could grow food.

These types of exclusions are not uncommon. So what can be done? Correctly analyzing the social and economic needs of the community is essential during and after the relocation. For example, in addition to personalized solutions, general help like advising on financing, health and welfare issues, assistance in packaging and furnishing the new home and, very importantly, transportation (as these communities are moved from more central parts of the city where they have their network and jobs) can prove to be very helpful.

However, the true problems lie not in the suggestions, as there are many scholars who have thought extensively on this issue, but their applications. This then becomes a political issue, and the agendas of the decision makers are directly effective on the measures taken against these problems. What needs to be understood is that this issue involves many disciplines, and a satisfactory solution cannot be found without all of them being incorporated into the process.

In the context presented above, in addition to social, economic and political solutions, can architectural and environmental design be used in better adapting the relocated population into the city life in general?

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 Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 at 9:18 pm and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Housing, Infrastructure, Land Use, Social/Demographics, 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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