Lack of urban planning looms over İstanbul’s future Kaynak : 06.10.2014 - BGN News | Yazdır

In the holiday season of this week’s Eid al-Adha, İstanbul’s roads and highways have once again borne witness to agonizing lines of traffic, stretching across kilometers. Acclaimed Turkish architect Doğan Hasol explains the numerous problems with İstanbul’s traffic as leading back to the lack of urb

Lack of urban planning looms over İstanbul's future
Hasol recalls “When İstanbul mayor Kadir Topbaş was elected in 2009 he established the Metropolitan Planning Bureau, and had hired close to 500 experts who conducted serious work to plan for and tackle the problems of İstanbul, including a landscape plan. However this plan was never implemented.”

According to the architect a number of key construction projects, publicly promoted by the current administration, were either altered from the landscape plan of the Metropolitan Planning Bureau, or were made up, ignoring it entirely. He provides the following examples: “The third airport was initially planned for the Silivri district (the southwestern outskirts of İstanbul) instead of the north. Additionally the third bridge – currently under construction – and the Canal İstanbul project were never in the plan, nor was the tube-highway passing under the Bosporus.”

Government scraps planning for short-term results

Hasol touches on the exponential growth of İstanbul ’s population which has gone far beyond expectations: “To start off, İstanbul ’s population has already reached 15 million, whereas the forecast of 2023 had indicated merely 16 million. Now there is no forecast for İstanbul ’s population in 2023.”

“İstanbul currently houses a staggering 18% of Turkey’s total population compared to 30 years ago when this figure was 8-9%,” adds Hasol who, along with other experts, believes the situation is “unsustainable.”

The acclaimed architect also reflected upon İstanbul’s traffic, an area which most transparently exposes the metropolis’ lack of urban planning.

“Traffic jams are no longer constrained to bridges, but in every street corner of the city and not only limited to rush hours but in every waking moment of the day.”

In the search for a solution, the architect draws on the fundamental fact. “First we need to determine what the population of İstanbul needs to be,” he said, adding, “then, new attractive urban areas can be determined and developed, thus paving the way for the population to disperse over a wider area.”

The consolidation of Turkey’s investments into İstanbul is categorically ‘an unfair trade’ according to Hasol, who believes that urban development plans need to be brought to provinces across the country.

In his statement Doğan Hasol listed other flaws in numerous developments affecting the city:

Subway lines 

“The Kadiköy-Kartal subway line (a 26.5km line which opened in 2012 and stretches horizontally across the Asian side of İstanbul) is currently working at 20% efficiency due to the fact that once you exit the subway stops, there are no direct connections to other forms of transportation or subway lines.”

Mosques vs skyscrapers 

“There is wide held criticism of the fact that İstanbul ’s historic silhouette is being ruined by poor planning. There is huge loss of architectural touch and identity. The great historic mosques are dwarfed by the rising skyscrapers.”

Better examples from France and Germany

“Today in Paris there is an ongoing discussion over the city’s future. Projects are being prepared and 10 bureaus have made offers. Close to 300,000 professionals are proposing ideas for this…[and] in Germany, there is no city which exceeds 4 million in population.”

Lack of proper architecture education 

Hasol believes that significant improvements in Turkey’s education system are required for any future development. “In Turkey someone who finishes a four-year program in architecture is allowed to draw plans for a skyscraper. Architects cannot be trained in a four year course. In Europe the education period is from 5 to 7 years. Even after completing, students in Europe are subjected to a rigid examination process.”

Oct. 6, 2014 | Cihan Acar | İstanbul