The Making of: New Housing

Moderator Hans Venhuizen

Salt Beyoğlu

October 29, 2011 14.00

Owing to its centralized location, İstanbul has always been a major point of attraction. Comparisons of populations around the world since 1000 CE show that, until the 20th century, İstanbul was among the world’s top-ten most populated cities. After a short period of stagnancy, the rise of industrialization in the 1950s stimulated the flow of Turkey’s rural populations to İstanbul. The resulting influx of people needed immediate housing solutions far exceeding the city planning tradition’s speed and the state budget. Ultimately, this sparked a process of unplanned urbanization and a surge in İstanbul’s now-ubiquitous gecekondu, illegally constructed buildings and apartments. Official figures show that in 2000 alone, 65-70% of İstanbul’s urban environment was built without official authorization. 

After the 1980s, the growth of İstanbul’s service and financial sectors created a demand for new types of housing. In this context, self-sufficient and isolated housing complexes mushroomed in the city’s more natural settings. Developers were offered the opportunity of large-scale construction, and they interpreted the concept of “community-living” in a variety of designs to attract all income levels. Responding to İstanbulites’ fears following the 1999 İzmit earthquake, marketing campaigns triggered a demand for so-called “earthquake-proof” buildings in the north of the city. Banks, too, became facilitators in this exchange, as mortgages were offered across the country. Despite unprecedented real estate growth, by 2009, experts predicted that approximately 150,000 of İstanbul’s housing units were empty. 

While in the 21st century İstanbul has become more strongly tied to service and finance than to industry, two important housing phenomena have emerged: first, the urban transformation projects aimed at revitalizing the city center, and second, the expansion of TOKİ (Republic of Turkey Prime Ministry Housing Development Administration) public housing complexes at İstanbul’s peripheries, now replicated nation-wide. The impact of these developments can be observed in the Tarlabaşı Renovation Project, severely criticized for its forced relocation of former residents to a remote TOKİ establishment.

Taking the example of Beyoğlu as a point of departure, how can individuals be actively engaged in processes of housing production and development in today’s market?

This workshop will be held in English. The page for the workshop in Turkish on November 26, 2011 can be viewed here.

You can register to the workshop by emailing your contact information to
New Housing