Part Eight | Urban Development

Pt. 8: Last week I reached a point where I felt like I have more a direction, where instead of sending out feelers to different topics I am choosing a road and following it. It was very exciting to have a level of clarity until I started to do further research, when I realised how much I still needed to focus.

I decided that the concept of Urban Development was an excellent intersection of my interests and those of my supervisors, something that I could continue to pursue during my time at Sabanci and something that would retain relevance. So I looked into the history of different neighbourhoods in the Istanbul to see if I could find one to focus on, skimming a few more scholarly analyses of the development of the city because I’m so undereducated when it comes to this level of specificity.

I did find a website that documents major works projects in and around Istanbul on a map of the city, with the history and information on each. I’ve been slowly poking through these and cross-referencing them with other research. I found that, even within the two directions of changing urban landscapes, Urban Development and Gentrification, each neighbourhood had its own influences, its own history and story. I noted a few down to visit in person, and went into the city to wander a bit and see how drawing went. Of course, I neglected to check the weather and it was raining, so the wandering and especially the drawing was limited.


What I realised during my paseo is that the contradictions of gentrification seem more suited to my current way of working - the mammoth structures of urban development done have the same line quality as old houses, twisting streets and hipster coffee. Gentrification is a subtler, arguably more natural process than eviction and bulldozing. However, when I think on what I have say about gentrification it’s simply highlighting the contradiction, the uneasiness and complexity of the problem.

This is a tired subject, and I don't have the energy for tired subjects.

One thing might bridge the gap between the two, if I even decide I want to bridge that gap. I found these sets of twin houses in the gentrifying areas of Kadikoy, one, run down, boasting once-beautiful details on its facade and glimpses broken walls through the holes where windows used to be, hinting at history and secrets. The other is straight and smooth, the same details replicated in mechanical preciseness, surrounded by painted brick and sturdy staircases. They are perfect embodiments of the contradiction I’m seeing, strange and sad.

I did notice that I gravitate towards these kinds of neighbourhoods during my walks. Much of this is avoiding the discomfort of going into the other areas, nervous for safety and security. I’m not sure if this is a “get out of your comfort zone” kind of problem, or a legitimate issue to consider.