6 million houses should be demolished in Turkey, says Erdoğan
AA photoUp to 6 million houses should be demolished and rebuilt in Turkey within the framework of “urban transformation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that the process was a necessary precaution against natural disasters.
“Some 179 areas in 48 districts have been declared risky zones and taken within the scope of urban transformation. Additionally, 3,778 hectares in 21 districts have been determined as a reserve construction area,” Erdoğan said in a speech at the Urban Transformation Congress in Istanbul on April 11.
The president said the aim was not to demolish houses but give “citizens safe homes.”
Criticizing the Istanbul Chamber of Architects, which is highly critical of urban transformation projects, Erdoğan questioned whether the chamber’s job is “to build or demolish.”
“While we are working to build, others just want to demolish. This chamber should work on plans and projects. Whenever you take a step on urban transformation, they take it to court. These cases don’t result in anything for them but they make us lose time,” he said.
Erdoğan pointed to Istanbul’s Esenler district as a flagship site of urban transformation.
“I’d like to give good news to the people of Istanbul, especially people living in Esenler. We started digging in the Esenler Havaalanı neighborhood on Sept. 5, 2012, for urban transformation. This work has now finished and the keys will be delivered to the beneficiaries of new homes next month. Some 2,373 houses and 55 business spaces have been built in this area,” he said.
Erdoğan also said he would continue to make an effort to take into account sensitivity in projects conducted in places such as schools, courthouses and hospitals.
“We need to own this style, of which [the famous Ottoman architect] Sinan is the foremost practitioner. For this reason, I want the mosques being built either in Istanbul or other cities to reflect the Ottoman and Seljuk architecture not only with their appearance, but also with their souls. But besides that, we are encouraging the construction of artifacts that can lay out the difference with modern architecture.”
During his speech Erdoğan also mentioned efforts to adopt local and authentic architecture, saying that in 2011, the goal, which consists of 500,000 houses, was reached in 2011.
“Now, we have a second goal consisting of 500,000 houses until 2023. Now we superseded this goal, and we are saying that let’s go to a number that’s not 1 million, but 1,200,000 in total,” he added.
Erdoğan also discussed projects to construct bicycle roads in Istanbul, while praising bicycle roads in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
“We will create opportunities for the people. With pedestrian roads, bicycle roads… For instance, our Istanbul has nearly zero bicycle roads. Konya is not like that. Konya’s bicycle roads have been very successful,” said Erdoğan, adding that Turkey was “backwards” in building cities that benefit people with disabilities and that necessary steps should be taken regarding the issue.