Innovative approaches to urban mobility: Istanbul as case-study

  • Cecilia Scoppetta DPTU – Università la Sapienza


 Istanbul is one of the oldest metropolis of the world, standing upon two continents, but its modern history, which is linked to planning exercise, can be traced back the beginning of the last century. In fact, the industrialization was the most attractive factor for people without job, living in the underdeveloped rural regions of the country, bringing serious problems to the city: urban sprawl, unemployment, insufficient infrastructures and public services and, over all, the illegal settlements called gegekondu (built-in-a-night houses), located in the outskirts of the urban area. In general, the growth goes over forward three branches, which are population, land use and transportation network, but it is possible to recognize in the linear form the influence of mobility factors: ferry, railways and highways. The current structure of the metropolitan area of Istanbul clearly shows the relationship between the mobility system and an uncontrolled urban sprawl. Starting from 1950 public investments have been oriented towards the construction of urban highways as an answer to the increasing exodus of rural population and to the related occupation of urban soils. In this sense, many authors underline how the proposed solutions and the reasons of the problems paradoxically tend to coincide. On the other hand, planning tools which have been used in the past have proved ineffective and have produced a largely illegal and ungovernable city. In fact, it is possible to describe the evolution of city planning as a result of the difficult to apply planning and development tools successfully experienced in the European countries but not adequately conceived with regards to the local social and economic structure of Istanbul. In particular, polycentrism, which has been largely evocated in planning tools – think of Sir Patrick Abercrombie’s proposals, at the middle of the Fifties, or of Luigi Piccinato’s plan of the metropolitan area (1969) – has constantly exceeded by the diffusion of illegal settlements. It probably means that changes are faster than the duration required for the processes which are used in planning and transportation organization. Also the new tools, as strategic plan and urban project, seem to show their limits. A larger integration between still sectoral urban policies can contribute to the definition of innovative approaches. An example is given by the pilot project “Street are Ours, One Day a Month”: the slogan “moving people is more important than moving cars” clearly shows the “communicative” dimension of the initiative, aimed at the experimentation of innovative forms of alternative mobility in the framework of a broader involvement of inhabitants in planning choices. In this sense, the pilot project is oriented towards a reinforcement of the meanings related to the concept of proximity, involving not only mobility issues, but also those of community and local identity.


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Author Biography

Cecilia Scoppetta, DPTU – Università la Sapienza
PhD in Regional and Urban Planning, researcher and teacher at the Universities La Sapienza and Roma Tre. Chief Editor of the international journal “urbanistica pvs”. She has been involved in the working out of different urban plans and she was consultant of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Unesco with reference to the themes of the cultural heritage protection and, in a more general way, of the contemporary city.
How to Cite
Scoppetta, C. (2010). Innovative approaches to urban mobility: Istanbul as case-study. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 2(4).