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                                   GBER Special Edition

                                       August 2017


 ISSN 1474-6824 (online) 

  ISSN 1474-6832 (print)                                                                             

Historic Built Environments and its adaptability today: Transforming contemporary Turkish urban entities



Tasleem Shakur

Collective memories, vernacular architecture and transforming historic urban identities of Turkey and beyond. 

Conserving the ‘idea’ (the image of memory) of what a built environment should be and what it should represent-as the environment pertains to the memory- seems to be one of the important dynamics of contemporary design. Perhaps this becomes more of a fundamental pre-requisite when the focus is on historic built environments and in more specifically when relating to the regeneration of historic urban identities. For example, some research in the Mediterranean region suggest that their traditional towns provide unique ‘sense of place’ to those who voluntarily, or involuntarily, left those sites and now live elsewhere (Shakur, T, 2015). Also, experience of heritage architecture, planning and urban design from both developed and developing world in the 21st century suggest that development plans, have produced visibly vibrant communities. In some cases, while there do exist serious contestations of land uses, however, the end product still appear to have favoured the communities living or working in those spaces (ibid.).

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Bilge Ulusay Alpay, Pelin Gokur and Iclal Kaya Alpay

The conservation of urban identity and memory in spatial planning: An assessment of Yassida

The purpose of this study is to discuss the role of urban identity conservation and collective memory through the case of Yassiada’s planning approaches. Located within the borders of the city of Istanbul, Yassiada is among the islands of the Prince archipelago. Situated at a visible distance from the Marmara coasts of Istanbul, the island is not open to public as it is not zoned for residential use and it was used as a military zone in the past. With a quality which is reflecting the history, social and political dynamics of an era, the island is the spatial image of a community that acknowledged a common past, meaning and memory; that is a qualified whole of an urban identity and collective memory. It has now been zoned for construction with tourism and cultural facility functions as outlined in the 2013 plans. The Yassiada case demonstrates that plans with no strategies and policies in relation to identity and memory do not achieve their objectives.

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Erdem Kaya, Meltem and Kaya. H, Serdar

The Integration of groves into urban fabric: Green Infrastructure in Istanbul      

İstanbul as a metropolitan city has been experiencing uncontrolled urbanization since the 1950’s. Massive migration movements and the construction of the two bridges in 1973 and 1988, appeared as catalysts in this process and led the growth of the city in an east-westward direction as well as through the northern natural reserve areas. The pace and the scale of the spatial growth has become one of the major threats to the natural areas at the periphery of the city as well as to the green and open spaces within the city center. The problem of urban spread toward green areas at the periphery and urban intensification in the center has led the loss of a considerable amount of green areas and a decline ecological sustainability. One of the most prominent effects of urbanization can be observed in the patchy structure of urban green which includes both actively used areas, such as neighborhood parks and passive green areas. 

Within this densely built-up environment, large green areas (as a major component of the urban green) are represented in the form of urban parks, groves and cemeteries that date back to the 19th century. Therefore protection, maintenance and enhancement of those historic landscapes has become one of the crucial issues for sustainable development. However, just like other green areas within the city center, those sites are threatened by development pressure and uncontrolled manipulations that lead change in the character as well as change in the physical quality. It is obvious that there is an urgent need for an approach and methodology to integrate those historical landscapes into the existing urban green. 

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Sibel Polat and Neslihan Dostoglu

Semantic transformation of public open space: Bursa Republican Square

Today, urban dilapidation experienced in many city centres related to different reasons affect also public open spaces which become a current issue with discussions about privatisation, disappearance and obsolescence. In this context, public open spaces become an important agenda to revitalize city centres and to rediscover them again in terms of “loss of place identity” issues and efforts “to reinforce place identity”. Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate transformation of public open spaces in terms of identity and urban memory. In this context, the identity of Republic Square located in Bursa city centre was analysed from past to present. Different methods were used to realize this case study, such as archival and literature review, basic observation and deep interviews with 30 users. As a conclusion, it was revealed that environmental aesthetics are still sustained in the square, but spatial experiments and behaviours of users have changed in a negative way due to the power of global capital related to the changing social structure in cities.

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Tunali Selma

The effect of socio-cultural changes on urban areas: Kadikoy historical district bazaar                                  

The 1980’s was the period when socio-cultural, socio-economic and socio-political balances of Turkey started to change and transform. Many factors such as the entry of international capital, the acceleration of rural/urban migration and the diversification of consumption patterns have brought about major changes in the social fabric. Nowadays, Turkey is faced with many problems. For instance: the majority of the people who migrate to cities remain in the informal economy; formal production has decreased; the public is lead to consumption; the diversity of consumption has increased; social segregation has occurred and city newcomers have a tough time adapting to the urban culture.   Sociological and economic changes are occurring in the social structure, such as the introduction of new consumption items to the society (which has been the target of the international capital), lack of time, changes in the supply-demand balance due to the new socio-economic structure, the increase of mass media is directly reflected in the urban fabric and the culture; continuing with increasing speed with the globalization phenomenon of the 2000s. During the process of the rural-urban flow, an unbalanced demographic structuring has taken form and cities have grown from the centers to the outskirts in a crooked, structureless fashion. Nowadays cities are packed with buildings that are constructed without a plan and the city centers are rapidly changing their character with the construction of rather large and tall buildings.

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Ayse Duygu Kacar, Aysen Celen Ozturk, Terane Burnak,  Gokce Onal Ketizmen and Hatice Dulger

Involvement of riverfront as a natural artefact into urban public life: eskisehir Porsuk Case

All human settlements have different characteristics from each other. These differences grow out of natural environmental conditions, as well as the socio-economic and cultural circumstances gained in historical development process. Each settlement has its own characteristics such as geological position, geographical location, evolution in historical development process, etc. Although the commercial, industrial, cultural and demographical analyses introduce important data to define the structure of the city, it is not possible to understand the singularity (the singular, unique nature of a city) with this kind of data. In order to lay out the singularity, a study that is concentrated on a single city, one should specify the properties that make it different from other modern cities. Two significant artifacts shape Eskisehir’s urban structure: One of these is a natural artifact, the Porsuk River and the other one is the railway. These artifacts shifted the city’s development in an eastward-westward direction. The paper takes Aldo Rossis artifact theory in order to locate a theoretical framework in wich to define the singularity and identify the Porsuk River as a natural artifact. Within this scope, the student works, analyses and designs, which borrow elements from the urban image theory of Kevin Lynch, in the Urban Design Studio of Eskisehir Osmangazi University in 2013-2014 (Fall Semester) will be discussed. 

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Ersan Koc

Town Planning and design prospects from Turkey: Bursaand Kocaeli urban design studio                                              

This paper aims to speculate upon findings and experience on a design studio study, which was carried out in the Department of Architecture of Kocaeli University Faculty of Architecture and Design in İznik District of Bursa and Kandıra district of Kocaeli province of Turkey. The urban design studio was carried out in order to evaluate the findings of the studio "Studio upma+T: urban/public/mixed use/agriculture + transformation" which was carried out by the author in fall and spring semesters of 2016 and 2017, together with interdisciplinary participants from urban planning, architects, regional developers and landscape architects. The aim of this study is to develop transformational urban design projects with the aim of bringing high public values in the middle and long term to the city by considering urban design of İznik and Kandıra as a workshop. The focus of the workshop is on identifying, evaluating, analysing, synthesizing, developing the theme and developing the "Public Space" and "Common Area" and adding "Value" to the towns and overall city image. The examination of the workshop was coordinated in relation to topics: "a. cultural and historical basis, b. natural and environmental resources, environmental planning and design, c. social and economic formation and dynamics, and d. spatial structure, settlement texture and settlement plan. Throughout the İznik Urban Design Workshop, 5 socio-spatial concepts were identified that can be used to inform the design process and create urban development opportunities within İznik.

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Eamon Reid

Transitioning Cities: A commentary on Cities in Transition and beyond.

This commentary combines two readings: a re-reading of Shakur’s (2005) edited volume Cities in Transition and a conceptual interpretation of the articles presented in this volume. This reading discusses the notion that contemporary “developed” cities (developed world cities) are transitioning in contemporary times alongside “developing” cities. The conservation of vernacular architecture in the contemporary context could be linked to wider political and conceptual concerns. Drawing on fieldwork observations and the interpretation of literature, the author attempts to re-translate and re-interpret articles from Shakur’s edited volume alongside contemporary developments. The emphasis is on the political: the political and conceptual questions raised through re-interpretation of problematics pertaining to collective memory, the role of the vernacular and the contestation of space. How can we understand the problems opened by Cities in Transition and the problems left open by the articles in this volume, pertaining to the political constraints of implementing thoroughly conceived plans? The commentaries modest goal is to open the space for debate and discussion relating to the political dimensions of the built environment, including construction and design. 

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