Museum instead of mall, hotel or residences at Gezi Park, says Istanbul mayor
Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş argued that most of the trees of the Gezi Park could be incorporated into the Artillery Barracks project. Out of the 563 trees in the park, 72 were fit to be moved, he added. AA photoNo shopping malls or residences will be built on the site of Taksim Gezi Park although the area could be used to construct a museum, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has said in a bid to appease anger sparked over the destruction of one of the city center’s last oases.
The municipality will not back down from its plan of building a replica of the old Artillery Barracks, the mayor said, adding that it would likely be converted into a city museum. “We absolutely do not think [of the Artillery Barracks] as a shopping mall, hotel or residences. The surface would not allow it. We will design it as a museum or an exposition center,” Topbaş told reporters today.
He said he hoped to display his project to the public, but added that the prime minister expressly wanted to reconstruct the Artillery Barracks. “We already declared it in our electoral program and our people voted us in accordingly. Our prime minister absolutely desires the Artillery Barracks to be built,” he said.
Topbaş said most of the trees of the park could be incorporated into the project, adding that out of the 563 trees in the park, 72 were fit to be moved and other 26 could also be planted again but with some risks.
He also said the architects working on the project proposed that the remaining green area could be connected to the promenade leading to the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theater in Harbiye and to Maçka Park. He also vowed to plant more trees in Taksim Square.
Responding to a question about whether the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which represents the protesters in Gezi Park, would be satisfied with this proposition, Topbaş argued that they might not have an objection regarding the project. “They told us that there were against a single building, but they could discuss a project [that sees the area as a whole],” Topbaş said.
Protesters would not accept 'any construction'
The Taksim Solidarity Platform slammed Topbaş and said categorically that it would not accept any construction at the site. The group also called on the government to act responsibly and take concrete steps to hear their demands.
The platform members, who began camping out in the park on May 26 to stop early demolition efforts, told Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on June 6 that their primary demand was the preservation of the park.