Tasarım Dergisi: Currently, many new projects are taking place in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. Do you find these studies proper in terms of urban planning?

I am a bit doubtful. The work done so far, in the sense of compensating the delays, experienced in urban planning domain are optimistic acts.  But, decisions are taken quickly and the practices are put into implementation at almost the same speed. In this regard, I can describe my concerns within these three groups:

* The first is the problems arising from the construction plans and the problems encountered in the implementation of the plans. I believe that it is necessary for us to discuss the issues of urbanization and urban planning in our country which are not related to the current legislation, the frequently changing zoning laws and regulations and the adequacy of monitoring and control in this area. The main problem of zoning law applications related to the solutions of urbanization and reconstruction problems is the reduction of spatial planning to the purpose of obtaining physical plan. “Structural Planning-Strategic Planning” concept and “step-by-step coexistence principle in planning”, although it has taken its place in the planning literature and its practice after 1980, is still thought-provoking. In the construction of the zoning plans, we see that the chances of zoning applications  reduced because sometimes the topographic maps cannot be read well and because of the poor or even non-existing recognition of the land. Decisions taken by the municipalities and councils responsible for the implementation of the zoning plans are likely intensify local solutions, increase the pressure on open-green areas, and the natural-cultural assets likely to be damaged by implementation plan alterations. In this sense, rehabilitation in accordance with recent conditions and technique seems to be necessary.

*Another issue is that the linkage of biological life as an important parameter in urban planning, that is, the concept of “urban ecology” is considered as an important discussion title in the planning. Today, the negative effects of urbanization on natural conditions and the negative developments such as the deterioration of the natural structure within the city and the increase in the effects on human health and activities push researchers to multi-dimensional thinking and questioning on the concept of “urban ecology and livable city”. Cities are living organisms, and as a living space, cities are human ecosystems where many natural and cultural elements coexist and interact. Socio-economic activities such as housing, education, health, transportation, trade, industry and tourism, which have to be constantly developed for natural development such as air, soil, water and plants for economic development in urban planning. The healthy functioning of this structure, which is called the urban ecosystem, depends on the harmony between the natural and cultural elements which are the components of this ecosystem and the balance between them. Are there occasional glitches and / or situations that can be overlooked about this balance? This question should be asked at every step of planning. As an urban design expert and landscape architect, we consider this phenomenon as our primary benchmark in all our planning and urban design projects. I advocate the necessity of urban ecology, which is not a human ecosystem of cities, to have more say in planning and a holistic approach that combines the points of view of many disciplines such as earth sciences, biology, planning, sociology, economics, and political sciences. Urban ecology is nothing more than a geographical approach to analyzing cities in terms of causality and its implications as content and methodology. There should be an approach that prioritizes methods and practices that support “urban productivity”, “productivity”, “protection” and “reuse” within the model of urban economic development that considers sensitivities in urban planning. The situation we are encountering this condition might be valuable in terms of moving from the Kurbağalıdere example, the way geography is used in planning and the continuation of biological productivity and recycling. I would like to say that the rapid movement of urbanization in the world has brought the concepts of “carrying capacities of natural assets” and “livability of cities” of urban areas to the agenda and thus the interdisciplinary relationship in this area has started to increase and I am very satisfied with this situation. I want to continue to draw attention to an important problem that we are currently facing in the planning of cities, which is the question of what city plans are currently being applied and how we evaluate them as a designer.

* I think that the vision of the most up-to-date and the most burning problem is refugees and asylum seekers coming to our country and to our cities. Master plans should be re-addressed in this sense especially in metropolises. I think that the urbanization policy is called all the coordinated policies affecting the speed of population movements, the shape and the geographical distribution of cities, and the way of helping development of the country. I think it is necessary to take urgent measures for our cities. Whether or not our cities are ready for this situation and especially the greater cities that will be affected the most, Ankara, metropolitan area of Istanbul, and İzmir are ready for that. Today, 2 million, but in the coming days, more of the refugees and asylum seekers in our country that we know that the city will be ready for a plan to pass on these guests to a resident life is ready?  Due to the recent upward trend in numerical numbers with Syrian refugees, pro-active measures against possible problems and more responsibility for our refugees and cohabitation formulas that we have been living with in many cities now must be remembered. Because, the accumulation of the city’s refugees, together with them, can bring wealth to the city by efficient coordinations. The city that is turning its back on this accumulation will actually have abandoned this rich quantity and quality to criminal organizations. For this reason, we are now at the beginning stages of a very crucial process. We need to understand this opportunity very well for solidarity and our city in the name of human dignity. In order to start from sheltering, they have to find solutions on their own with all the problems that arise from being people like eating and drinking, warming, health, education, working. The number of asylum seekers who are “invisible” in the city should be considered a very important development for Turkey in terms of the increase in numbers and the number of asylum seekers who have stabilized for years (even excluding Syrian refugees), with increasing acceleration in the last 2 years. The issue of placement of these people is an important work area. In fact, I think that this shock of living in our cities needs to be addressed urgently in all actors of urban planning and I believe that we should evaluate this opportunity very well for solidarity and healthy development of our cities in the name of human dignity…

Tasarım Dergisi: If we think about Istanbul; the work of city planners, architects and landscape architects is getting more and more difficult. Do you think Istanbul has a chance to change?

Change and well-done urban transformation in Istanbul is a difficult process. The city has a very complex structure. This complexity is both a consequence of the city being multi-tiered, that is, the process that it has undergone over time, as well as a result of being unplanned. Istanbul is a much unknown equation. Solving this equation requires a smart, logical and patient model of urban governance. However, unfortunately, Istanbul has experienced a very different transformation in recent years. Planning is the pawn of this adventure. The concept of transformation is driven by political decisions taken at the desk rather than a macro problem of planning. As Rant is in many cities, Istanbul is also chained by that. Transforming this city with daily decisions without resolving urban infrastructure and identity problems would be the most evil action to be made to this city. Many times we are criticized by urban planners-architects and landscape architects because of their fragility against earthquakes and their lack of a healthy urban life, but we also recognize the necessity of urban transformation projects. While the new functions that the city defines for herself new meanings are attributed to the city, and eventually the place cannot isolate itself from this new structure. This restructuring; although urban transformation in Istanbul, is addressed under the sub-heading of renewal and sanitation, it does vary from local projects to holistic plans, rather than planning together on the premises. For Istanbul, the concept of transformation has experienced conceptual change, perhaps not from a quick decision, but perhaps from a process that you have really given up. In this context, it is not true that we are not forced. The above mentioned zoning implementation plans and the difficulties brought about by local interventions, ignoring the dominant role of the concept of urban ecology in the planning and trying to give under the title of refugee / asylum seeker, the unplanned population increase changed the coefficients of difficulty on Istanbul. I would like to say that I consider the healthy change that will take place with the nature of the values that make it a world city, the basic steps to be taken without losing its geographical identity and its historical identity. It is pointless and inadequate to consider only this vision and the reshaping of the city in relation to this vision and the urban transformation projects that come to the fore with the global vision of the city and the earthquake in Istanbul and the reshaping of Istanbul. We will turn to the advantage of being able to make urban transformations, by trans-disciplinary cooperation in this city. I think we can catch the chance.

Tasarım Dergisi: Urban transformation is considered as a negative concept, but it can have constructive consequences when implemented correctly. For example, in this issue, we publish the progeny to your Kurbağalıdere. Could you open up this project a little bit?

Unfortunately. I think that the strategy and action of “Urban Transformation” is a very significant instrument of urban planning and of urgent urban needs, primarily for our big cities. It is mostly considered as a negative concept in our country due to controversial application processes.

Urban transformation can be used to aim at obtaining a healthy, high-quality and balanced urban life for urban residents. Urban transformation projects should be produced to prevent negative impacts and to eliminate existing environmental and social problems, Kurbağlıdere Project is just such a project. The most important argument of transformation is the correct construction of the open green space network. Landscape architects have important duties and roles here. The public spaces and open-green space network in urban transformation for İstanbul is much more important than any other issue, for bearing earthquake risks, for clean air, and sustainable resource use. Kurbağalıdere Project is an output of the project competition held by Kadıköy Municipality. We won the first equivalent prize with our project. However, our project approach shows some fundamental differences compared to other projects. Within the scope of the project, we aimed to bring back Kurbağalıdere to Istanbul in accordance with the natural landscape characteristics of the past. We wanted to use Kurbağalıdere as an important promenade area of Istanbul just like it used to be. We rejected all the construction done to the creek bed and to be done. We put our attitude towards nature and green, especially against Fikirtepe Urban Transformation Project. As we have in the past, we have made this area the pastor of the pasture again. I still care about the Kurbağalıdere rehabilitation project which is being carried out by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. As far as I know, they will direct the existing polluted water to the treatment plants and discharge it to the sea and pumped the clean water they get from the sea. This process can help revive the skin. However, the rehabilitation and regulation of the creek bed environment is at least as important as the nature itself. I wonder what kind of way to follow this. I hope this project will be a positive result and a model for the rehabilitation of other river beds.

Tasarım Dergisi: The Yeldeğirmeni neighborhood of Kadıköy is undergoing both social and physical changes. Will you be working for this region? How do you evaluate this change?

I see a different approach and practice in urban renewal in the Yeldeğirmeni Neighborhood where we see traces of a positive transformation in both social and physical terms. The model, which is based on the hill behind the quay of Kadıköy and is one of the districts of Istanbul with its own character and which is transformed into an urban depression area and is trying to keep up with the big urban changes around it, is a model applied to the dynamic of the region itself, I regard it positively to be a valuable model for landscape architects, architects and planners who are actors of urban planning. The anatomy of Yeldeğirmeni sample will be an important role model in the reconsideration of cities. Yeldeğirmeni / Rasimpaşa Neighborhood Revitalization Project, which started in 2010 for the preservation and survival of Kadıköy Yeldeğirmeni’s historical texture and its unique neighborhood identity, aims to be taken together with people living in it and to create a healthy and livable city piece in a social, economic and physical sense I am excited as an urban designer. As far as I follow and follow the publications; In addition to the physical projects such as the renovation of the lower structure of Yeldeğirmeni, the preservation and functioning of the historical monuments, the creation of the public spaces, the construction of the facade arrangements, social projects such as the creation of an artisan union for which the people of the neighborhood will take responsibility, activities and workshops are also carried out in the context of revitalization. Thus, I find it valuable that the aim of preventing the destruction of the worn out urban fabric is based on the principles and principles of the project. In this process, it is necessary to pay attention to the process of gentrification which will cause people living in the neighborhood to leave this area. If you lose the city’s culture that makes up the memory and character of the city, that region cannot go beyond a theater decor. The danger is here. In this context, civil society organizations and local governments have important duties. It is necessary to find a way to solve this transformation with a controlled and logical method. During the past year we have developed a project for Kadıköy Square and its surroundings, which form the center of the Yeldeğirmeni region. Our project aims to bring the Kadıköy center, which has turned its back on the city for years, to the sea again. In this context, we have been working to discipline the pedestrianization and traffic system in order to bring the steep streets to the sea. Kadikoy Square is a real square like the name of the square was rescued. Buses and dolmus storage areas along the coast were removed and reserved for use by all coastal highways. Likewise, he got back to Kadıköy. Haydarpaşa Garı has become a symbol of the city as it used to be. Strong pedestrian connections were established between the square and the historic station. Historical Kadıköy Bazaar and Yeldeğirmeni Neighborhood have become a significant component of Kadıköy Square and the coast with its new image. With a respectful sense of history and memory…