WIT Press

Tarlabaşı, Istanbul: A Case Study Of Unsustainable Urban Transformation


Free (open access)





Page Range

417 - 426




1,611 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


M. L. Turanalp Uysal, N. Korostoff


The purpose of this paper is to examine a municipally sponsored urban transformation project in the Tarlabaşı neighbourhood of central Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, the first modern urban area of the city, for its effects on the historic, social, cultural and economic sustainability of the city. The study examines the 300-year history of the neighbourhood and its most recent social and physical conditions prior to the transformation project (which is currently under way). Historic records, maps, plan and photographs will be utilized in the study. The results of the study demonstrate that the urban renewal project imposed upon the Tarlabaşı community by the municipality and allied agencies is not sustainable. To the contrary, the project has destroyed a culturally rich and socially diverse community with deep roots in the historic urban texture of Istanbul and destabilized adjacent communities. It has displaced over 4,000 people; added to the homeless population of central Istanbul; and created additional pressure on impoverished areas nearby. The physical transformation of the area will destroy all but the facades of over 210 (of 278) historically registered buildings and completely altered the spatial configuration from a 16th century neighbourhood of two and three story buildings on narrow streets and alleys to a 21st century zone of gleaming glass and steel condominiums. From a socially diverse community providing refuge and employment for minorities and those with alternative lifestyles, Tarlabaşı will become a bedroom zone for the newly rich of Istanbul. In the conclusion of the study the authors will discuss the impact of several similar urban transformation projects upon the sustainability of historic central Istanbul.


sustainability, gentrification, urbanization, urban health