The New Gate: Public Space, Infrastructure, and the Re-Orientation of Historic Istanbul

Istanbul Re-Oriented: Over the past four decades, the city of Istanbul has grown away from the congestion of its historic center towards its vast metropolitan fringes on both sides of the Bosphorus supported by an extensive network of roads, bridges, and public transportation. This condition is bound to radically change in 2011, when the Marmaray project , a new underwater train-line linking the two sides of the Bosphorus, will be completed . This line will bring more than one million passengers a day into the historic city. Yenikapi (Turkish for \”new gate\”), an existing station at the intersection of ferry and metro lines right next to the Roman wall of the historic city, will be enlarged to serve as main station for the Marmaray. From Yenikapi, commuters will work their way from the inner city out. Yenikapi:The new geographic repositioning of the historic city will require enhancing and reorienting its public spaces. The site of Yenikapi is already highly urbanized. It is further challenged by archaeological findings of a Byzantine harbor (probably destroyed by an earthquake), the city\’s disaster relief program (primarily in face of earthquakes), and the sectional relations among the different parts of the site add to the challenges of building a station and the public spaces required for its proper functioning. The interstitial spaces between the different modes of transportation will require a clearer connection logic as this site is readied to become literally the new gate for the one million commuters.Studio Project:The studio explores the intersection of these different infrastructural components in the historic city around the program of a new station. The students in the studio will propose design solutions for this station and its different components. These include entry points and public spaces, retail activity, a disaster relief center, and bridges and passages. Whether they are to fuse these components into a mega-hub, treat them as discretely intersecting layers, or disperse them as part of an incremental development strategy in the historic city, the students will be encouraged to push the relationship between urban development and public space towards a new conception of the role of infrastructure in reorienting the city.The scale and scope of the project is to be determined by each student\’s strategy. This will also determine the combination of architectural, urban, landscape, and engineering tools to be used Some of the main formal explorations include:-the degree to which the infrastructure networks will formally manifest themselves on the site -the relationship between sectional complexity and surface continuity -the relationship between abstraction and legibility in the design of public spaceStudio Organization:The studio meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 6:00 pm.It is offered in collaboration with Bilgi University in Istanbul, where Profs. Tansel Korkmaz and Han Tumertekin will be conducting a parallel studio, and with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. It includes a site visit to Istanbul during the last week of September. The outcome of the studio will be part of an exhibition and publication for Istanbul, Cultural Capital of Europe 2010. A workshop on risk, public space and the city will be held at the GSD on October 13 using Istanbul and the studio theme as its main case study. The studio is sponsored by the Aga Khan Program at the GSD and Bilgi University.