ArkiPARC, a 2-day real estate and architecture event, occurred in Istanbul between March 28th & 29th, 2012. During the series of conferences; architects, urban planners, politicians, and investors not only had a chance to meet and exchange business cards, but also discuss current urban transformation projects and their affects on those who live in Turkey.
Break-out sessions and panels revolved around urban development and transformation projects within the quickest growing cities in Turkey. Metropolitan Municipality presidents and investors were supporting trendy “diving tunnels” and fancy shopping mall projects while architects, urban planners, and academics were eager to criticize uncontrollable growth of trade center populations in cities. The Head of Shopping Mall Investors Association (AYD), Hakan Kodal, claimed that shopping malls support linking people where everyday street sidewalks fail to fulfill this need. In contrast to his claim, Ramadan Kumova, from Fer Yapi, mentioned the importance of street life in Turkish culture and how we should benefit from street furniture and culture, as other European countries have done. An additional critique to diverging from human needs was done by internationally known Turkish architect Emre Arolat. He criticized the expedient mentality over city planning in Turkey and stated that if it was to build squares and parks instead of shopping malls, people would chose to stay outdoors.
A similar argument discussed Istanbul’s Metropolitan Center Büyükdere zone. Amidst the discussions of transformation over this appetizing development area, Christoper Choa from AECOM, underlined the importance of human scale and stated that people become happier by gathering together, not by staying in pretty buildings.
After the conference, a question still remained; Why do we continually ignore the human impact in our projects? My personal observation is that everyone in ArkiPARC, who are major authorities of construction sector in Turkey, were unanimous about insufficiency of public spaces and green parks in Turkey; however current projects focused on capital rather than human comfort.
Is it so hard to start designing with human impacts before we get stuck inhumane shopping malls?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.