An activist researches Istanbul construction
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily NewsYaşar Adanalı, who received the Best Internet News Award, which is given within the framework of the seventh urbanization congress, is a scholar and activist. Adanalı works on how urbanization affects people’s lives.
Yaşar Adanalı, a scholar and activist, focuses on the urban transformation period and how this period reflects the development and people of the city.
“We can take the example of the Ayazma area,” he said during an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News. “In that area there was a shanty house district with 10,000 people living in it. However, the area was evicted and a new district was created for new ‘construction.’”
All of these are part of the new system that Istanbul has adopted. It is a fact that large companies are currently looking for new areas to build houses and large buildings.
Economic growth and the related construction boom are extremely visible in Istanbul, according to Adanalı.
The ever increasing number of shopping malls and residency culture, which create gated communities, define the urban landscape of new Turkey, Adanalı said. The Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) also has a role in the state-led privatization process of public land and assets, Adanalı said.
Adanalı not only focuses his criticism on TOKİ but also on the large construction companies’ big residency projects. The residence culture is not the only problem for the city. “Those large projects are also the advertisement resources,” he said. “Without a doubt, they are also their main venues, which cause the real tragedy in the middle of the town.”
For example, while Ali Ağaoğlu was saying to locals through an advertisement “Everyone deserves to live better,” which became his motto later on, a tragedy was taking place in Ayazma. “Ayazma was the district in which Ağaoğlu planned to build his new project titled ‘My World Europe.’”
During the forced eviction period, Adanalı wrote what happened in the district in his blog.
“Those people who lived there were evicted from the district and were sent to buildings that TOKİ made. However, that was not the only result, because those who started to live in TOKİ houses also had to pay monthly rent, which could make those families poorer than they were before,” Adanalı said.
“No one, not even one single newspaper, mentioned those issues,” Adanalı said.
The vision of Istanbul
Currently, the vision of Istanbul is changing constantly, Adanalı said. “The trend is marketing Istanbul through mega projects. Neo-liberal cities around the world want to provide a suitable environment for foreign investment, divert public resources for the market and create capital friendly cities with high rates of growth and development. Yet, this vision of urbanism, proved by existing examples, is hostile to its common people, its heritage and environment. Thus, we need to unpack the ideology behind the project and position ourselves accordingly.”
In this sense, Adanalı focused on the mega projects in the city, such as huge shopping mall projects, Formula 1 Park, mega real estate projects and the effects they have on the city. He evaluated how those projects reflected on the urban transformation dynamic in Istanbul.
These mega projects never help to improve social justice in the city, according to Adanalı. “Istanbul is already a divided city. The rich live in the gated communities and the poor live in slum neighborhoods and TOKİ blocks. And the city is losing its relatively class-free neighborhoods. The gap between rich and poor is ever increasing, now that more than 30 billionaires live in the city.”