Istanbul Eclectics I

MSc Studio

Year:

2003

Studio participants

Author(s):

THE MEANDERING ABUNDANCE

Istanbul is the oldest continuously developing metropolis of the world. It has been the capital of two successive empires throughout sixteen centuries, and only half a century ago has lost its dominant political position, albeit it still keeps the status of cultural and economic focal point of the Turkish state. The modern metropolis rests on a thirty-meter thick layer of debris accumulated by the former stages of development and this history can be felt everywhere, mixed with recent constructions and fiercely appropriated for the current uses. Istanbul has a distinctive feeling of an oriental city mixed with ugliness and motion of a third-world settlement. This combination overwhelms in the first contact with a pulsating feeling of powerlessness and misplacement. The insight view though renders its inhabitants living their lives in a pleasurable and peaceful manner. The city vibrates with numerous cafeterias and restaurants, overcrowded bazaars and lively streets. Shopping is exchanged for a hedonistic mix of chatter and tea-drinking, swimming pools are substituted with socially active hamams. The life and character of the city remains eminently different from any other we might recall. Istanbul is stretched over the Bosporus strait encompassing the natural harbor known as The Golden Horn. Primarily it was a peninsular settlement that controlled the navigation between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. From this propitious location it could also supervise the flow of trade between the continents, it is here that the city of Constantinople was founded in 330 AD. Since then until little more than a century ago it did not outgrew the original boundaries, instead, it first annexed the Golden Horn and then the Bosporus itself. The agglomeration as we know it today, spreads along the seacoast for tens of kilometers, covering 25 districts of the Istanbul Province. The real explosion of its development took place in the second part of the 20* century, when during 25 years between the population had tripled, leading to massive crisis in housing development. Nowadays more than a half of citizens live in these squatter communities. It is hard to define whether the city belongs to Europe or Asia, despite the fact that roughly 70% of Istanbulites live in the European section. Dispersed and internally divided agglomeration is bound with maritime traffic, which is still very dense. Istanbul stays fragmented also within its inland territory. Similarly to Rome, It covers seven hills, spreading out from a central ridge with swarming abundance of meandering streets, where the districts and neighborhoods are isolated within the undulating fabric of the city by abrupt breaks and steep slopes of terrain. Even great rulers of the past never attained control over their own capital, which defied the passage of time and still holds its internally independent and externally powerful position.

Participants: Erik Havadi, Marieke van Hensbergen, Reinier de Jong, Kerem Piker, Joana Sancho Torres.

Mentors: Alexander Vollebregt, Oscar Rommens, Marc Schoonderbeek, Elise van Dooren.

Istanbul Eclectics I
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