Category Archives: Urban renewal

‘The New Istanbul’ is justified due to the risk of earthquake

Northern Istanbul is getting planned as ‘The new Istanbul’, a new city constructed on the ’empty’ land that is left by the military institutions. All the existing buildings within this huge area (40.000 hectars) will be demolished due to the risk of earthquake, so that a new city will be erected on the land.

According to the new law enacted in 2012 on the transformation of the sites that are under the risk of disaster, ministry of environment and urbanism, ministry of transportation, housing development administration, and the real estate investment trust of this administration, Emlak Konut, signed a protocol about this ‘new istanbul’ project.

The project, that provides ‘higher living conditions for the residents’ has been approved by the ministry. The news are announcing that parts of the project will take the ‘traditional seljukian housing model’, and the parts designed for trade and tourism will be consisted of skyscrapers.

Behind the justification based on the earthquake risk, this cooperation and construction of a new city will require high profitability. It seems like, the former residents will pay all the costs of this new project, again. And the government will continue to seize on all the lands ‘available’ in Istanbul for urban transformation projects, along with the 3rd bridge project, 3rd airport project etc. The promotion of the project as ‘The new Istanbul’ is significant.

For the news about the project (in turkish language):

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The Splasher Manifest: Street Art and Gentrification

The Splasher: Die Revolution frisst ihre Kinder

The Splasher Manifest

The Splasher movement attacks the street art due to their effects that attract the gentrification. ‘The revolution eats its children’ they say.

“Street art gives the green light to investors, becomes that repugnant drug of tourism, and speeds the process of gentrification. By making the ghetto “beautiful”, the street artists neatly wipes her hands of any responsibility to examine underlaying social or economic oppressions at play and instead revels in her own mystified vanguardism.”

A very fitting example for such criticism can be the street artist-public authority collaboration in Istanbul, a city that is promoted as ‘the cool city’ of late years. The metropolitan municipality and local municipalities such as Kadıköy initiated ‘officially planned and motivated’  street arts in certain ‘popular’ sites in the city to cover/renovate the wornout urban fabric; giving street art or graffiti a definition reducing them to wallpapers; a form of art that uses the city as canvas. Although the Splasher attacks are not only limited to such an officialization of the street art, this might be considered as the sharp edge of where it arrives.

Tarlabaşı, a neigborhood in Istanbul that suffered a harsh urban transformation process along with the gentrification became a scene for several street art projects in the last months, just after the rough intervention (evictions and demolition of ancient heritage buildings) to carry out the project. ‘The street artists’ were fascinated by the ruins, assuming that they were ‘left’, although people that used to live in these ruins didn’t leave the place with a good grace.

‘Kamusal Sanat Laboratuvarı- Laboratory of Public Art’, a collective that takes the public art as a social issue protested one of the events, ‘Tarlabaşı Street Art Festival 2012-Renovation’ on 16th of September for the role of this kind of a street art in this gentrification and urban transformation process that made the neigborhood more attractive for the targeted clients. They visited the event with banners on which the figures related to this urban transformation such as the mayor, metropolitan mayor and the most  prominent constructor that is continously involved in such processes celebrated this street art event for its contribution to the attraction of the site.

What Begüm Özden Fırat, a sociologist and activist, suggested in an article about these events gives a very smart clue for those who wants to intervene in this transformation in critical terms with street art: Do your graffities on the walls of the city hall or on the billboards that intend to hide the ruins and the tragic scene of the urban transformation from the eyes of the people !

“Hâlâ burada yaşayan ve dönüşümün ikinci etabında ikamet edenlerin ellerini güçlendirmek için, boşaltılan alanları yaratıcı direniş mevzilerine haline çevirmek bir alternatif. Şüphesiz bu tavır, yaratıcılık kadar, örgütlenme, emek ve stratejik bir perspektif gerektiriyor. Böylesi uzun erimli örgütlenmelere tahammülü olmayan, anlık müdahaleleri tercih eden sabırsız yaratıcı zekâlar ise, belediye binasını, GAP İnşaat’ın ofisini ya da bulvar boyunca tertemiz duran reklam panolarını tual olarak kullanmayı seçebilirler.”

“In order to strengthen the people that still live here during the second phase of the (urban) transformation, turning the evacuated places into the sites of creative resistance is an alternative. Beyond any doubt, this attitude requires organization, effort and a strategical perspective, as well as creativity. Those impatient and creative minds that cannot take such long-term organization processes and prefer immediate interventions might chose to use the city hall, the office of GAP Construction Inc. (the company that carries out the urban transformation project in Tarlabaşı) or the spotless billboards throughout the (Tarlabaşı) boulevard as their canvas.”

(To read the full article of Begüm Özden Fırat in turkish language:

So could there be a way to perform street art that don’t mean to fall into such a collaboration with gentrification? May be taking the content-frame relationship in a more precise and smart way, rather than using the urban fabric just as a canvas that fits in some aesthetical touch?

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Taksim Sempozyumu

İstanbul’daki mimarlar Taksim’i tartışacak. Kenti yalnızca fiziksel bir mekan olarak ele almamaları, üretilmiş İstanbul tahayyüllerinin içine hapsolup, argümanlarını bu tahayyüllere dayandırmamaları, tüm bu dönüşümün bir kartpostal fonunu değil de insanların gündelik hayatlarını ve tüm bir toplumu nasıl etkilediğini akıllarında tutmaları umuduyla…

Amsterdam to create ‘scum villages’: “Put all the trash together.”

Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist Dutch Right-wing party

The new right-wing governmentality suggests a concentration camp-like solution for the ‘persistent troublemakers’. Does it refer to the criminalization of a certain class or the high class troublemakers will also be forced to leave their highly gentrified neighborhoods? An easy way of naming human beings as ‘trash’ just because they are considered non-productive in terms of the violent capitalism? An easy way to exile the lower classes that reside in inner city to be able to gentrify what remains from them?


“What does the Urban Transformation Project in Istanbul expect from Tarlabaşı, where in the day a crowded and vivid life is going on in its streets while at night it becomes a dangerous silence and the dark faces of the strangers? Following the questions that ‘who are these people?’ and ‘why and how they live in this neighborhood?’, this work aims to show the day and the night of Tarlabaşı and to picture the anger of its inhabitants of being looked down.”

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