Istanbul's silhouette-spoiling skyskrapers may be torn down after court ruling
The 37, 32 and 27 storey buildings in the Zeytinburnu district are clearly visible in the panorama behind the Süleymaniye Mosque on the city's historic peninsula. Hürriyet archive photo
An Istanbul court ruled May 24 that the three massive skyscrapers spoiling Istanbul's historic silhouette must be torn down.
The construction of the 37, 32 and 27 storey buildings in the Zeytinburnu district on the European side of Istanbul had sparked a lively debate after they were built, as they were clearly visible in the panorama behind the Süleymaniye Mosque on the city's historic peninsula.
In its decision, the court explained that the skyscrapers were illegal, as they "negatively affected the world heritage site that the Turkish government was obliged to protect."
Meanwhile, a representative of the company that owns the skyscrapers, titled the "Onaltıdokuz Residence," said the road to appeal was still open. "This is a decision of an administrative court. It cancels the license of the buildings, but there is the possibility of an appeal. The status of the project is still legal. It's not a definitive ruling yet," the representative was quoted by daily Hürriyet as saying.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had revealed last month that he had asked the businessman Mesut Toprak to give a "haircut" to the buildings, and resented him for not doing so.
"I side with a form of architecture that accords with our culture. In Istanbul and Ankara, there are structures that have gone against the characters of both cities. I don't approve of vertical structures; I rather favor horizontal ones. Four stories should be above the ground, while the other four should be built underground," Erdoğan said in an address to the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Istanbul lawmakers on April 17.
Toprak had responded that it would have been impossible to make an adjustment, as the top floors of the residences were already inhabited. "We don't have any problem with our licenses and zonings. Our project completely complies with the zoning plan we developed. There is no illegal aspect [in our work]. I have never been involved in an illegal job in the 42 years of my working life," Toprak said.