Istanbul is a mega-city of over 12.5 million people, the third largest in the world. Located at the meeting point between Asia and Europe, divided by the Bosphorous, Istanbul’s long history stretches back to Constantinople and Byzantium. It is literally littered with heritage sites, including a recently discovered Neolithic “shipyard” which has halted a major subway project. During Ottoman times, the city was the seat of power for the empire, comprising a dense walking city surrounded by royal hunting grounds and farmland. The current city, still largely oriented around the historic core, has grown exponentially from 2.1 million in 1970 to more than 12.5 million today.
Confronted with huge transport and servicing problems that cannot be dealt with by transport megaprojects alone, the Istanbul metropolitan planning agency is seeking to modify the city’s mono-centricity. A main response is the Kartal Industrial Area Central Business District Plan. The 555 hectare site extends north from the Sea of Marmara and will include housing, business, tourism and leisure elements - seeking to shift Istanbul’s centre of gravity east of the Bosphorous, towards Asia.
The design by architect Zaha Hadid is a sharp contrast to the box-form modernism typifying Istanbul’s development of the last 50 years. The project’s architecture is flowing forms and undulating arcs of steel, glass and concrete. An invited competition was won by Hadid in 2006, which subsequently stalled during negotiations between major landowners, and detailed processes for compulsory acquisition and residential relocation remain unclear. However, it is now taking design shape as an immense cityscape of slipstream forms incorporating towers and courtyard buildings, following and accentuating Istanbul’s undulating topography.
Street Level Planning
The design includes a construction area of over 6 million square metres, for approximately 100,000 people to live, work and recreate, supported by integrated public transport. The project has now moved to street-level planning to integrate Istanbul’s world-class street life. Spaces flow into each other in a manner more like an organic walking city of old – a contrast to the car-centricism of recent Istanbul.
The project is based around a gridded street network with three major density clusters, and a main boulevard “spine” between a new metro station in the north and the rail and motorway transport hub in the south - via a light railway. North and south business districts are complemented by a number of large public and recreational areas, including a quarry converted to a major open recreational area centred on a lake a marina, cultural district and recreational areas near the seafront.
Also in UDFQ 85: March 2009:
- London moves to Melbourne
- The art of place-making
- A River's Tale
- Good urban design in small regional towns
- Planning for future development
- Bush fires and global warming - density of rural settlements is the real issue
- Design help for Local Government
- Planning to live in the bush
- Musings over lunch
- What do urban designers have to say about the Victorian fires?
- Impressions of Freiburg