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An Istanbul Utopia 2023: The Results

Do not Plan, Play Istanbul! Challenges the Urban Plan

Play the City's Ekim Tan continues the story of Istanbul Utopia...

By the year 2023, the city’s players built an earthquake-proof Istanbul. Renewal of the last half century’s fast and cheaply produced housing stock was a gigantic operation involving 70% of the city.

However, the transformation revolution started small; on the city block level. These interactive local operations spread quickly. Crowds repeated variations of the block transformation model across the entire metropolis. It is clear that Yapyaşa’s collaborative city games triggered an urban transformation revolution in Istanbul.

How is this process reflected in Istanbul’s physical setting?

What are the results achieved between 2012 and 2023?

Now let us have a look at the achievements of the last ten years:

Transformation Revolution

As a result of the positive cooperation between TAFs and CoRs, the Turkish banking system felt confident about financing local transformation projects even in underprivileged neighborhoods. The Ankara headquarters of TAF - or the former TOKI- invested in the initial demolitions of transformation areas. As TUIK reports documented in 2013, TOKI had been building homes in the saturated real estate market of Istanbul. Some of these mass housing flats were vacant for a long while. TAF used this abundant housing stock as temporary homes for those who needed relocation. As their dwellings were rebuilt and neighborhoods renewed, home owners and renters could temporarily settle and pay low rents. On their return to the renewed neighborhoods, home owners paid the difference between their new homes and their former illegal or weak constructions. TAF could recoup its initial investments by collecting the capital difference created after the transformation. TAF kept the housing surplus and offered temporary housing for the urban poor. This way renters were given the chance to move back to their neighborhoods. This TOKI act for lower income groups prevented the reemergence of cleaned up gecekondu neighborhoods.

PMs ensured the transformation of upgraded parking and public space network at the block scale. The regional scale PMs made sure Marmarail become the public transport backbone of the city. The controversial third bridge never materialized, instead PM invested in the rail and light rail transport networks. A considerable amount of work went into improving the residents' 'mental map' for using the public transport. Today, passenger ferries connecting Asia and Europe play an irreplaceable role in the mobility of Istanbullus. Ferries run more frequently and their interiors as well as the stations offer an unforgettable personal luxury. Formerly notorious for its endless traffic jams, Istanbul finally enjoys an integrated water and rail network in highly urbanized areas. Electrical metrodolmuş are taking Istanbul urbanites to the deepest corners of the city’s forests.

Clean drinking water reserves, natural forests and diverse agriculture zones in and around the city make Istanbul an inhabitable metropolis. As a result of Yapyaşa, players cancelled artificially boosted new municipalities in the north and crazy new towns never got built. Obviously, each local CoR had its own priorities. For instance, Arnavutkoy’s sprawling urban patches were soon left to wild nature. This happened right after its population moved back to the city’s renewed neighborhoods. In places such as Sultanbeyli, Sariyer and Suleymaniye, COR and TAF branches were very active due to the slum challenge they tackled. Geological survey maps indicated neighborhoods like Maltepe or Zeytinburnu as vulnerable to earthquake, so the inhabitants of these neighborhoods were relocated to the immediate edges of the city. Such operations were very carefully implemented. To minimize the social damage, about 15.000 people were moved together with their local shops, services and businesses. Urban forest and agriculture programs replaced these risky urban zones. The transplantation of natural segments, whether an urban forest, water or agriculture, gave Istanbul what it lacked most: moments of rest and rejuvenation in her dense urban structure. Finally Istanbul’s urbanites can experiment with urban agriculture, fishing and sailing in the midst of the city.

In 2023, mad totalitarian master-plans no longer distract Istanbul’s citizens.

Istanbul has become a city with smart urban agents.

These agents stopped planning the city.

They now Play the City!

Now the megapolis enjoys its nature. Istanbul borders remain protected. Dangerous housing stock is renewed.

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