Geography of a Bridge: Reconfiguring Istanbul¿s Ataturk Kopru across the Golden Horn

The studio aims to unlock the architectural potential of an infrastructural element by reconfiguring its status between system and object. The site is the foot of the Ataturk Bridge in Istanbul and the adjacent navy dockyards that have been recently cleared for local public use. This newly available land will permit a series of improvements around the existing bridge including enhancing the public space at the landing of the bridge and linking the nearby neighborhood of Kasimpasa to the waterfront. The students can choose to focus on the dockyards site, on the reconfiguration (and redesign) of the bridge, or on both depending on their individual design strategies. Additional programs such as an aquatic center on the dockyards, fishing stands, a market, and a proposed new subway station will also be entertained accordingly. In contrast with the systemic approach to infrastructure, the studio proposes that enhancing an object-like conception of infrastructure is necessary to effectively impact the scale of the larger city. Reconceived as a quasi-object the bridge could radiate its visual and formal logic to its immediate and distant surroundings without being consumed by them.Kasimpasa, the Dockyards, and the BridgeIn 2010, the government of Turkey allowed the transfer of national and military property to local governments. Along the northern shore of the Golden Horn in Istanbul, a series of sites will be released to the local municipality. One of them, the navy dock yards, has occupied a strategic point at the entrance of Beyoglu and Pera, the northern quarters of the old city. The release of the property provides the opportunity to reconfigure one of the most important points of arrival and orientation in the historic city and to meet the following main challenges:- The dockyards had squeezed the foot of the Ataturk Bridge into several bypasses and footbridges without a clear sense of arrival.- The sectional drop between the neighborhood of Kasimpa??a and the water, creating obstacles for the citizens of this lower-income neighborhood to access the water edge.- A new bridge for the metro-line is planned nearby, potentially causing further congestion and confusion at this critical crossing.- The structure of existing bridge is neither sufficient for the incoming traffic nor for the activities of fishing, pedestrian crossing and gathering that animate the old bridges of Istanbul.- The bridge structure is not edifying enough to match its status in city.- An important historic mosque by Sinan sits just to the east of the bridge and its grounds have been severely compromised by the looming presence of the bridge. The authorities of Istanbul are aware of these issues but they tend to address them each as a separate problem with a different set of tools (The skills of engineering, transportation planning, architecture, landscape are applied separately). The studio proposes that this division of labor is counterproductive and that these problems should be addressed together around the reconfiguration of the bridge.Infrastructure and the City (bis)The resurgent discussions on the future of infrastructure have focused primarily on the need to update it and re-conceptualize it into integrated rather than isolated systems and networks. The main criticisms have focused on the modernist conceptions of infrastructure as isolated systems that have seriously ruptured the urban fabric and damaged the environment. As such, much of the bravura of early infrastructural feats and figures (the engineering of a span, the clover leaf) have been de-emphasized. Roads, railways, and irrigation canals may have become more integrated in the urban or ecological systems but they have lost their figurative presence. While bridges are one of the few infrastructural elements that have historically stood out as objects, this definition has nevertheless m