Architects criticize municipality's redevelopment project for Taksim Square
Elif İnce RADİKAL – Istanbul
The new redevelopment plans include ponds, small groups of trees and benches.The Chamber of Architects and the Chamber of Urban Planners have reacted negatively to plans that would lead to Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square being decorated with ponds, small groups of trees and benches, according to a fresh project approved by the local preservation board.
Numerous fountains, ponds and trees are seen in the Taksim renewal plans. However, both Chambers say that with the current plan, Taksim would lose its property as a square. Mücella Yapıcı, head of the Chamber of Architects said, “These trees would prevent the mass use of the square, so its function as a park would be altered.”
On May 6, Turkey’s Council of State canceled the controversial Taksim pedestrianization project with a majority of votes.
The project’s first step was completed last year with the underground tunnel in Istanbul’s Taksim Square being opened on Sept. 12.
The construction area is also adjacent to Gezi Park, where protests had erupted in late May and spread across the country. Protesters who were opposed to the municipality’s redevelopment project of the park, which would involve cutting down trees within the vicinity, also objected to the pedestrianization project.
The decision followed Istanbul’s first Regional Court’s previous decision, which canceled Taksim’s pedestrianization project and the Artillery Barracks project on June 6, 2013.
The court decided to cancel the changes over the 1/5000 scale and 1/1000 scale construction plans for Beyoğlu, which automatically cancelled the pedestrianization and the Artillery Barracks projects.
The Istanbul Municipality released images of Taksim in February, showing how the square would have looked after the landscape project was complete.
The Istanbul Chamber of Urban Planners has also disapproved of the project, saying its aim, in fact, was not to ease traffic for pedestrians, but rather giving priority to vehicles by creating five tunnels, which would inconvenience pedestrians wanting to reach the square.