The generic interventions, ‘grand projects’

Extending the Center of Istanbul: Visions for Cendere Valley

June 27 & 28 2009

Organizers: Aysim Türkmen, Orhan Esen

meeting point:

Saturday, 09.15 am departure from Londra Hotel, or 09.30 pick up at Taksim, AKM bdg

Sunday, 09.15 am depatures from Taksim AKM building, or 09.30 pick up at Londra hotel

Generic interventions ‘pave the road’, they are expected to create the snowball effect. In no other formerly industrial area of Istanbul, mega infrastructure projects of the public (planned, under construction or already built) are likely to exercise such an overwhelming impact as in the Cendere valley, equal to the administrative district of Kağıthane, (since 1963 as a subdistrict of Şişli, since 1987 independently)  home to more than 400 000 Istanbulites with Anatolian migration background..

Kağıthane is an old industrial district, at the former periphery of Istanbul. Historically, it used to be a highend space at the periphery with palaces, waterways etc. However since mid 20th century it was converted into a densely built up industrial area, particularly at the valley bottom along the Cendere river, which facilitated easy dumping of the industrial wastes. The big mass of working class migrants occupied -mostly publicly owned- territories on the very steep slopes surrounding the valley in order to provide housing for themselves, the so called gecekondus.

From late 80s onwards, the first wave of transformation took place in Cendere valley. As the metropolis grew on, the area no longer remained peripheric, but was quiet centrally located. The construction of a second highway belt and its connections gave the space ‘a structure’ within the metropolis, a considerable amount of chemical and metal manufacturing industries were cleansed and relocated, leaving back vast derelict brownfields, soon subject to interim uses or design processes as parks. The original low density gecekondu shelter areas got legalized and densely built up. The second generation town, or the post-gecekondu was functionally mixed, containing petit / flexible production, storage and trade infrastructure within the ever-densifying residential areas. A newtown with its own real estate market based on freshly legalized small ­landlords, their petit constructors and entrepreneurs of migrant origin developed, while migration continued and newcomers became the new underclass. The district municipality also intervened into the housing market and supplied a considerable mass of ‘social housing as private property’. Kagithane was, in a way ‘normalized’. – However, only for a brief period not even lasting 2 decades.

Kağıthane is simply adjacent to the Büyükdere axis, the main road of Istanbul on the ridge -just separating the 2 parallel valleys, Bosphorus and Cendere- , along which the major capital flows and investments of the metropolis in the 19th and 20th century occured. The Büyükdere axis converted since late 80s into the Central Business Corridor of Istanbul, with a remarkable vertical skyline development, housing all major private banks of Turkey. Reason enough for Kağıthane not to  be left in peace !

The 2000s paved the ground for  ­flooding the Cendere valley. Among the mega public undertakings are 3 tunnels, which transverse the ridge from east to west or from the Bosphorus to the Cendere side. 2 of them contain nothing but underground highways, one already built. The third one (under consturction) is designed literally to flush the valley: it should bring flows of salty Boshorus water into the river bed to cleanse the industrial leftovers, und make it an attractive spot.
Furthermore, an express road and a railroad at the valley bottom, two tube lines transversing the valley in different directions, and aero-rail systems at the steep slopes are likely to increase access to and transit through the territory. – which is, obviously too important ­ that its destinies could be left alone to its locals.

cover page


Friday, 26.06.
AM 20:45 – 21 30 ­

In the foyer of the E-3 bdg, Santral campus.
At Exhibition panels of Kağıthane Urban Transformation Project.

Introductory remarks on Cendere valley  / Kağıthane district
Introduction to program, Last updates
Division of tasks for presentations

Saturday,  27.06
‘the overview + upper valley, accessing from the east’

AM 09 15 departure from Londra Hotel, or AM 09 30 pick up at Taksim, AKM bdg

We access our area of investigation today exploring the white collar, upper middle class neighbourhoods and sites on the east side of the highstreet Istanbul on top the ridge. The one hour exploration drive will take us over the Taksim square (­The center of  republican Istanbul)  to Maçka valley, or congress valley (short stop over) which has recently been linked with our Cendere Valley.

We continue through the districts of Şişli and Upper Beşiktaş which concentrate a major part of the private investments into built environment.

orhan 1 We arrive around 10 30 at Sapphire bdg. on the Büyükdere CBD Axis, adjacent to the Çeliktepe postgecekondu neighbourhood.
The Tower building is under consturction. When completed, with 261ms and 54 floors above ground level, it will be Europe’s second tallest residential tower, after the 264 meters tall Triumph Palace in Moscow , Russia . We will ascend to the roof terrace, have a chance to chat with the responsibles and will have an overview of our valley from above.

We descend around 12:30 and meet a representative of the Çeliktepe Social Solidarity Association of the adjacent Çeliktepe post-gecekondu neighbourhood. They struggled several years against the deorhan 2velopment of the big plot neighbouring Sapphire. 5 years ago it was bought by Sheikh al Maktoom of Dubai to erect his twisted towers here, even superceding the Sapphire bdg. ( The project was estimated to cost US$500,000,000 and is part of a US$5billion investment into the city. The agreement states that Sama Dubai will hold 80% of DTI’s shares, while the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, which currently owns the land plot, will hold 20%. A very recent court decision canceled the sales contract between the mayor of Istanbul and the Sheikh.

We walk through Çeliktepe and back to Gültepe, where we will have our lunchbreak. 13 30 – 14 30, possibly together with our hosts.

The Talatpaşa road, will take us down to the valley. Its one of the few arteria directly linking  to the valley, hence called a  boulevard, in fact a typical local post gecekondu commercial corridor.orhan 3

We ll drive down the Gültepe hill and continue at the bottom through some derelict and still functioning industrial sites. We ll get to BloxHaliç, (14:45- 15 15 h) (Haliç, in tr: the Goldenhorn) the first white collar housing project already realised in the Kağıthane district employing a star architect, Han Tümertekin.

orhan 4We’ll take a walk (15 15- 18 30) uphill through Basak konutları (=’dwellings’),  a mass housing area realized by the public into the typical postgecekondu structures. We’ll explore different small scale residential, productive and commercial urban structures of the postgecekondu town beyond the mass housing area. We finish the tour at a site with last leftovers of original gecekondu ‘being transformed’.

We drive down into the valley, passing by the site of a planned office complex, by TEKFEN grp, ( ) assigned to EAA, Emre Arolat architects. ( ) The project was commended by the MIPIM architectural review futre project awards in 2009 (office category) for not yet realized projects. (Photo on the front cover)

The Çağlayan road with showrooms of the metal industry in the valley takes us back to the uptown.

Sunday, 28.06
‘Lower valley, Accessing from the south’

Departure AM 09 15 Taksim AKM building, or AM 09 30 pickup at Londra hotel

Today we access our valley from another direction, the south. Yenikapı transport hub on the Marmara coast, the Zeytinburnu postgecekondu area with derelict industries, the Topkapi and Bayrampaşa industrial zones are sites on the route. Among other places we will also pass by the already cleansed Sulukule settlement behind the city walls.
We’ll drive down from highway at Sütlüce, have a short stop over at the upper Golden Horn new congress valley, which links via the new tunnel to Taksim area.
orhan 5

We will arrive like 10 30 in lower Cendere valley, and will visit a former factory building, just made up for the posh client from the other side of the ridge. (If time permits we will pay a short visit to the Terrace houses settlement from the 80s across the river)

Around  12:00 we get to the Nurtepe district, to visit the local womens cooperative here. In the Kağıthane district there are no active neighbourhod associations, involved in housing rights struggle.
orhan 7

The cooperative among its main function -as womens rights, awareness and capacity building association-  obviously also acts as a substitute of a neighbourhood association.
Today’s lunch 13:00-14:00 will be taken in form of a picknick at the Sadabad riversidepark, in local tradition.

orhan 6We ll walk to the municipality (former barracks building) and meet here Hüseyin Irmak, the press spokesman of the Municipality of Kağıthane. He will accompany us (14 00 – 15 00) in historical Kağıthane village center, which has recently been pedestrianized. An interesting urban niche is just adjacent, the ‘Waterfall Park’ area. The new settlement here comprises exclusively of gated communities and points out to the most likely development scenario in the  district.

We ll get back to Santral Campus / Bilgi University, (E3 bdg, 2nd floor, the Board Room)  to sum up and discuss. Here we will have a roundtable (15 30 – 17 30) on Kağıthane, to listen to overall plans of the major actors or some alternative scenarios.
– Mr Fazlı Kılıç, mayor of Kağıthane. Newly elected, getting to know his district. On occasion of the INURA conference he will visit the urbanistic and architectural work done at the Bilge University.
– Ulas Akın from  IMP (Istanbul Metropolitan Planning Center) will highlight masterplans developed from a metropolitan planning perspective: the discourse of ‘grand projects’ like the western corridore, a new, parallel CBD to Büyükdere Axis, dominate this view.
– Mr Kemal Çavus the Vice-mayor of Kağıthane, supervising the work of the Urbanisation and Building Department of  the  Municipality. The Department rather concentrates on development plans at close touch with landlords. Its all about managing urban transformation at the local level: Their job consstitutes the interface of local ‘business as usual’ and growing pressure from outside.
– Bilgi Universities master program of architecture, our hosts, have developed in their 2008/09 annual work the perspective of an ecological corridor for the Cendere valley. Mehmet Kütükçüoğlu and his students (Bilgi Uni. Grad. School of Arch.) will highlight its major pillars.
– Can Cinici, architect, who did a studio with his students (Bilgi Uni. Grad. School of Arch.)  in Nurtepe neighbourhood,  will highlight how and why the scholar architecture could learn from the spontaneous (post)gecekondu vernacular.The rest of the day is at leisure / to be used for the preparation of a presentation to the larger Inura group.

We will get back to the center using the new underground highway.

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