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Innovative approaches to urban mobility: Istanbul as case-study

Cecilia Scoppetta


 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.


urban planning

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Direttore responsabile: Rocco Papa | print ISSN 1970-9889 | on line ISSN 1970-9870 | © 2008 | Registrazione: Cancelleria del Tribunale di Napoli, n° 6, 29/01/2008 | Rivista realizzata con Open Journal System e pubblicata dal Centro di Ateneo per le Biblioteche dell'Università di Napoli Federico II.