Taksim park closed down

Taksim park closed down

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Taksim park closed down

Hürriyet photo

The one and only green public space in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, Gezi Park is being closed off as part of the controversial Taksim project, which envisages the diversion of the traffic flow on Taksim Square into underground tunnels. The historical Taksim Barracks, which once stood on the site of the park, are set to be rebuilt within the scope of the project.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, Yaşar Adanalı, an academic at the International Urbanism Department of Stuttgart University, said the conversion of open public spaces into consumption-oriented areas under the guise of “culture centers” was a threat to fundamental democratic rights.

“This park was the only area that enabled people to take a break from the chaos, where they could sit on a bench and simply exist without the obligation to consume something, unlike in restaurants, bars and cafés. This is a democratic right and condition. Now it is being taken away with the excuse of the conversion of the area into a ‘culture center,’” Adanalı said. “The Taksim area lacks no cultural centers, but it does lack green areas. If it is a matter of building ‘culture centers,’ why not do so in other districts of Istanbul where there might be considered a public need.”

‘Culture center’

According to Adanalı, the kind of “culture center” the barracks are planned to be converted into is unclear from official remarks so far. “If we look at previous projects, we should expect to see the area converted into a shopping mall, allowing room for a few cinema and exhibition halls. It is highly probable that the historical barracks will be transformed into a haven of consumerism with the ‘culture center’ icing on top,” he said.

The physical preparation for the Taksim Pedestrianisation Project started Oct. 30, daily Radikal reported yesterday. As part of the first phase of the project two areas were closed to traffic, one being the Zambak Street, which connects Tarlabaşı Boulevard to İstiklal Street, and the other being the front line of the Divan Hotel on Cumhuriyet Street.

The target is to finish the project within a year. According to a report in Radikal, the ongoing works on Zambak Street are for the replacement of electricity, gas and sewage pipes. The other area has been closed solely for traffic flow considerations, and no visible works can currently be observed.

The workers at the construction site on Zambak Street told daily Radikal that the work related to infrastructure was scheduled to be finished within 10 days and that work on Tarlabaşı Boulevard would follow the infrastructure survey.