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Transformation of Residential Areas and Tourism Curiosities

Sedat Bornovalı
Sedat Bornovalı
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Writings due to curiosity aim at creating new curiosity, and not just for expressing personal curiosity. Today, I am wondering about the on-going, residential transformation that’s in full swing in Istanbul. More importantly, I am not just wondering about the buildings extending further upwards, in this urban transformation, but the underground.

We’ve all had hesitations concerning Istanbul’s skyline. Due to the soaring skyscrapers the image of Istanbul is getting evermore distant from the image in visitors minds.

Recently, especially in the Asian part of Istanbul, the number of flats in the new  buildings are 30% up. In order to achieve that, the buildings must go upwards.

On the other hand, new residential buildings have underground car parks, so buildings are now going downward as well as upwards. It’s always possible to demolish a skyscraper that ruins the city’s skyline. Perhaps in practice it is very unlikely, but in recent months (despite the fact that many more are being built) if the demolished building is put into consideration, with the necessary incentives, It’s is always a possibility, at least in principle, to demolish. So, as it’s possible to regain the ruined skyline by demolishing skyscrapers, it’s much easier to regain what we have lost underground.

If we consider just Baghdad Street and it’s surroundings, we observe the existing Ottoman spolia monuments. Also, when we evaluate the pre-Ottoman written scripts we can see there had been settlements that were pre-Ottoman.

So I wonder how many historical artifacts will be ruined before anyone has the chance to see them or document them and how much damage we cause when we are digging underground car parks, with big, mechanical vehicles, racing against time.

I’m wondering why the people behind the digging are not worried about all of this.

The main curiosity of tourists is as follows: As we have actually given up on a wide range of historical monuments, I wonder if the middle ground couldn’t be agreed on and legislated? Couldn’t it be encouraged to protect the artefacts by giving permission to build 1-2% square metres more on the plots that have historical artefacts?

In return, couldn’t displaying the artefacts in front of the buildings provide an opportunity to bring out the beauty that lies beneath many of our streets and roads?

Couldn’t it provide a nice discovery route for tourists, streets filled with historical artefacts, in and around these apartments that are the gleaming symbol of a high standard of living.

That’s what I worry about.

We are trying to increase the number of discovery routes to offer the visitors in Istanbul Chamber of Guides training programmes, as well as trying to increase employment of new members.

Maybe such a move would be a further step forwards, both the Asian side of Istanbul could attract more tourists and at the same time we could increase the duration of visitors staying time.

I will continue to wonder whether it would be possible to create a new angle for tourism by creating historically-friendly neighbourhoods, but I’m afraid it’s getting late.

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