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taksim for all : a grid for the city

a city in two continents

The city dwells along the strands of Bosphorus, accompanying interesting sightseeings from Marmara to the Black Sea. The project area oversees the Bosphorus from hidden locations and even though it is 80m above the sea level and the city has various centers, Taksim square is the symbolic heart of the city which seeks more attention than any other place.

urban morphology: the Bosphorus, the hills, the impossibles

The geography of the city, which is unique in its fluctuant topography and straddled lands along the Bosphorus makes it difficult to forget once visited. It is one of the most interesting places on earth, along with the most challenging problems. As the historical capital made it out of the city walls, it would not stop despite the obstacles and transform sinuously into a mega-city of fifteen million residents in its metropolitan area. Urban and green infrastructure is not sufficient for this kind of density. The poly-centric structure of the city also reflects upon the social structure and many places do not accommodate substructures with a basis for urban platforms.
urban voids: parks and squares
İstanbul is a very dynamic city, even on the outskirts and so its social life, day and night. There are various squares and parks scattered along with the city but very few have both. Parks and squares are the dynamic networks and connecting nodes of lively cities and communities. When they possess inadequate infrastructure or not at all, they become unattractive and turn into waste, and even repulsive spaces in no time that no one wants to be around, they are as good as dead. The main reason for these places interpreted as dead is that they have little or too much permeability, lack the social realm, and human-scale that give no positive contribution to their surroundings. Multi-use of urban voids can improve safety and mobility, strengthen communities, enhance sustainability, and contribute to the local economy by placemaking tools. Let’s see what we can do for Taksim!
getting closer to the project area:the monument, the square, the park: the problem

The project area consists of three main physical features to deal with and a hidden one. the monument has lost its emphasis, floating on its place, while taking a naughty step, when the axes disappeared into inhuman scaled pedestrian streets. The park has gone through rough days equivalent to getting heart attacks, but that is not the only reason the day is feeling moody. The square also behaves similarly, tired of loosened relations. There seems to be nothing interesting going around. Taksim Square and Gezi Park seem to forget their “raison d’être” and are sleeping all day and night. It has been like that for a while now. Let’s wake them up! Wake up Taksim! Wake up Gezi! Wake up!

the question

A few important questions could be asked, like these ones that we hopefully managed to answer; _How do we reveal the potential of the area and make them healthy public spaces again without being disruptive and hurtful to their nature? _How can we use the potential of the existing park and embed new functions into its iconic and historical context? _What can we do to revitalize the square into a social urban space? _How can we foster and support the community through design? _How do we come through the urban heat island effect?

the solution

The park and the square have not always been in their perfect mood and affected accordingly to their beloved users, it is not easy to deal with people. Taksim gets its
name from the function of “sharing and distribution” of water when the Maksem was in use. As it was the center of dealing with water then, now it is dealing with people, which has similar mechanisms like the water finding its way through grooves and pipes but you have to supply the necessary structures, otherwise, it would be wasted. Such a waste of space, if it is not socially shared, where everybody feels home and reclaim the space for various events and even lazy days, increasing permeability with significant elements for comfortable access and attract people to sustain the place. Let’s see!

current situation
Taksim district has numerous interferences, through the years by the needs and desires of the community and space. Every revision in recent years shivered the integrity of the physical space. Especially the last move that took almost all the motorized circulation under the ground, although a positive development, erased all the borders, history, and memory of the space. The main problems of the space are the lack of orientation in the vastness, the disconnections on the human scale, and the missing memories and history of the place.
extending Gezi to the ‘original borders’
The actual land use of the site is formed by H. Prost, after the demolishment of the ‘Taksim Artillery Barracks’ for the sake of transforming an obsolete building into a public space, for Taksim Square plan and a continuous green infrastructure for the city. Named as ‘Gezi Park’, offering a loop trail surrounded by strict tree rows on the exterior, and more monumental hardcovered piazza inside, which considered the issues of re-arranging the logic of the original space use of the Historical Gezi Park Plan, in the first proposal.
re-shaping ‘Cumhuriyet Street’ and square
‘Taksim Republic Monument’ had been placed in a very particular space in 1928, which had a centric position and formed a physical square in a roundabout and axial connections with the surroundings, that also changed within time, and became an island in an ocean with the latest pedestrianization revision that implemented in 2013. Proposal offering the ‘re-creating Cumhuriyet Street’ which is a very important part of the ‘Istanbul Trade Axis’ by using the lines of the past, blending with the new connections to scaling both Monument and Taksim Squares.
arranging functional urban spaces
Proposal sustains programmable and flexible spaces for triggering public use, besides re-generating the urban void. ‘Taksim Square’ with a natural podium from park
direction can be used for bigger events outside daily use, and ‘Gezi Courtyard’ would be the new heart of Taksim, which surrounded a new pedestrian trail ‘Gezi Skywalk’ encouraging people to visit various functions and events, from sports to concerts, festivals to exhibitions, during all seasons of the year. Park would be a new social and cultural hub for the city.
existing system

the existing traces of the area are not visible anymore. there are not any trails but wide roads inside Gezi Park, which makes it more like walking in an urban area but
not a park, with very little greenery but huge nice trees. the monument floats at the entrance of Istiklal. Cumhuriyet Street is a 40m wide pedestrian street with only one row of trees and it gets 100m as it connects to the monument and Taksim square which makes them all lose context.

proposed system

the existing traces of the area collided and harmonized with the used to be but not implemented thoroughly historical lines, existing urban texture complementary lines, and temporary future irregular lines which especially makes the Gezi Park a memoir of history, now and future with a holistic approach to the site in general and connecting the monument, the square, and the park as if they have had always been.

taksim for all

Taksim Urban Design Competition . 2020 . ISTANBUL . TURKEY . 170.477m²    //E.Honorable Mention