Standardization of a public park in Istanbul

Room F
Monday, 31 August 2015
17.15 – 19.00
public space, urban planning

The main goal of this presentation is to study a public park in Istanbul, called Topkapı Kültür Parkı. It takes place in the former location of a bus station. After the moving of the bus station in 1994, the process to develop and control the public space was difficult. Until 2002, the informal flea market, which was around the bus station, was still in place. According to the municipality, it concentrated undesirable populations who should be ousted: young glue sniffers (tinerci), drug addicts, thieves, prostitutes and alcohol consumers. Army was required to exclude undesirable populations and, eventually, in 2004, Topkapi Kultur Parki was set up to pacify the public space. This new form of public space should lead to good uses (i.e. those accepted by the municipality) and prevent misuses. According to managers, everyone is welcomed in the park, provided that you observe the rules: it is forbidden to use samovar (a kind of big teapot) or mangal (an outdoor grill), forbidden to consume alcohol, you must have a behavior consistent with morality and there is prohibition of informal trade. The guarantors of these good practices are the watchmen of the park. Municipal rules do not really define the line between the good and the bad behavior, it is more a matter of interpretation by watchmen. Development of public spaces is a tool for the Municipality of Istanbul to change the practices of the metropolis’ inhabitants, instilling what are accepted practices and the others, so it could be said that the right to the city belongs to ideology of municipal authorities, but also depends on other factors (visibility of a touristic place, interpretation by applicants, etc.). 

Helin Karaman
helin.karaman [at]

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