PLANNED GENTRIFICATION IN ISTANBUL: THE SULUKULE RENEWAL AREA 2005–2010
Free (open access)
Volume 6 (2011), Issue 4
420 - 446
A. KOCABAS & M.S. GIBSON
This paper evaluates the first local government-led neighborhood regeneration project in central Istanbul with reference to its neighborhood impact and its wider implications for the future of regeneration in the city. From a perspective rooted in historical and international comparative planning studies, the research methodology is elaborated through an analysis of the evolution of a generic model of contemporary sustainable urban regeneration that provides the analytical framework for the evaluation. A review of the emergence of regeneration in Istanbul since the early 2000s establishes the context and rationale for the Sulukule case study. The paper then presents an analysis of events which led to the total demolition of the historic Sulukule neighborhood and the destruction of its Roma community. These events flowed from the authoritarian implementation of the Sulukule Renewal Area Plan, despite the efforts of civil society organizations to secure the development and implementation of a community-based alternative plan. The neighborhood level evaluation explains why the redevelopment of Sulukule should be understood as planned gentrification. Evaluation on a wider front is necessary because Sulukule has become the cause celebre in a vigorous debate about the purpose, scope, and outcomes of regeneration, which centers on the question ‘whose Historic Peninsula?’. Many argue that regeneration should be stopped, as it inevitably means planned gentrification. But others, including the authors, draw on international experience to argue for the development of an Istanbul/Turkish version of sustainable, conservation-led, and community-based neighborhood regeneration. More widely still, the Sulukule experience has fuelled growing opposition to regeneration per se, epitomized in the slogan ‘no Sulukule here’. Thus the paper concludes by outlining the action needed to move toward sustainable regeneration, not only for the city’s central historic neighborhoods, but also for the far more numerous poor and deteriorating 20th century neighborhoods where the threat is not from gentrification, but from the next earthquake.
evaluation and earthquake threat, gentrification, Istanbul, renewal area, Sulukule, urban and neighborhood