Istanbul’s history needs protection amid modernization: Academics

Istanbul’s history needs protection amid modernization: Academics

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
Istanbul’s history needs protection amid modernization: Academics

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Istanbul must preserve its identity and integrate its past into modernity, academics said during a two-day symposium on cities and architecture in Turkey’s largest metropolis. 

“Is the modern simply going to erase the past? Or are there efforts to integrate the past into the modern?” James McClellan, a professor of history and science at the Stevens Institute in New Jersey, asked.

He noted that the contrast between old and new buildings in Istanbul was striking, as compared to the relative harmony in the United States. 

The architecture of new buildings should be in harmony with Istanbul’s historical heritage, McClellan remarked, whose argument was echoed by other participants of the symposium jointly organized by Istanbul University and the Turkish History Foundation (TTK) between April 12 and 13. 

A professor in economics, administrative and social sciences at Bilkent University and a member of the executive board of the symposium, Mehmet Akif Kireçci said Turkey had the potential to achieve better harmony in its cities. 

“We [Turkey] can do a bit better in terms of organizing our cities and in terms of reflecting our heritage and culture to new buildings,” he remarked, adding that historic preservation is a sector that needs to be developed in Turkey.   

Kireçci said students of engineering, architecture and even finance should be taught about the significance of preserving historical heritage while the country continues its effort to modernize.      

While academic raised concerns over the preservation of Istanbul’s historic identity, the head of Turkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ), Mehmet Ergun Turan, revealed the pace of change in the country.

Turan said TOKİ has built some 710,000 residences in the last three years and aimed to build 1.2 million residences by 2023.