Visioning the urban renewal process in Istanbul: “connectivity supporting culture in nature and nature in culture”

10 July 2017 | Mahir Yazar

The second workshop of the Istanbul case was held on the 9th of March 2017 at the Institute of Environmental Sciences in Bogazici University, Istanbul. The Istanbul case is investigating the ongoing urban renewal process in Istanbul. The case will identify the multiple trade-offs that current urban renewal projects could generate for transforming the city towards sustainability.

The two main motivations of this year’s workshop were; 1) the 2007 Energy Efficiency Law and its contribution to a market transformation towards energy efficient practices and, 2) the stresses that the on-going urban renewal processes induce on the planning and governance of the city. 

The second Istanbul workshop, therefore, focused on two urban renewal project scenarios in order to assess the participants’ understandings on how a sustainable, livable and energy efficient neighborhood can be designed and organized for the selected locations. To achieve this, workshop participants were selected for their key roles in urban renewal projects in Istanbul. The workshop hosted two urban planners and two environmental engineers from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and five professionals from the private sector involved in energy efficiency consultancy, green building finance and building management businesses. In addition, four entrepreneurs from early stage start-up companies represented their innovative products that could contribute to achieving energy efficiency in residential areas of Istanbul.

During the workshop, participants were divided into two groups. Each group was assigned two different urban renewal scenarios, for which they were asked to design and implement green and sustainable solutions. The two groups were evaluated based on the same assessment criteria, which was structured as vision, design and implementation. The design and implementation criteria included aspects of participation, scale and intensity, technological choice, climate change adaptation and finance. The group sessions were quite interactive and the participants showed great enthusiasm to discuss current implementation of the renewal process, options for transformation to sustainability and the structural impediments to change from conventional practices.

The participants’ collaborative work provided some common responses, especially on how an ideal urban renewal project could be envisioned in Istanbul.  “Connectivity with the past” is the most commonly articulated ideal vision for urban transformation, whereas keeping “the sense of community” is the second most common vision that the participants agreed on. These are followed by one idea that the participants seem to be developing in some ways through the idea of connectivity. “Connectivity supporting culture in nature and nature in culture” appeared as the slogan of the workshop.

During the group discussions, the start-up entrepreneurs had the chance to promote their products. According to the entrepreneurs, it is essential to increase consumer awareness. It is also essential to increase the supply chain capacity to purchase and deliver energy efficiency appliances in Istanbul, and in the Turkish Market more generally. The participants, especially urban planners from a district municipality in Istanbul, were interested in the entrepreneurs’ ideas on creating vertical green gardens and reusing of grey-water in buildings. After the two participants from TuReFF (the Turkish Residential Energy Efficiency Financing Facility) mentioned opportunities to gain further funding from the TuReFF to support green building construction and energy efficient appliances, the municipal officers and entrepreneurs exchanged their business cards for further collaboration. At the end, the groups’ work have met the objectives and has increased awareness of energy efficient, climate resilient, inclusive planning and governance for sustainable urban transformation in Istanbul.

Mahir Yazar, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Bogazici University

Prof. Ali Kerem Saysel, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Bogazici University

For more information about the workshop, click here.