ISTANBUL PORTAL

ISTANBUL PORTAL

ISTANBUL PORTAL

ABOUT ISTANBUL PORTAL

Situated in a unique geography at the junction of Europe and Asia and bearing the legacy of three empires — Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman — Istanbul is a historic world city that defies any easy categorization into typological abstractions like “European city,” “Islamic city,” “Mediterranean city,” or “global city.” It is a bit of all of the above, and irreducible to either one of them. Hybrid, fragmented, and multi-layered, it has resisted all modern planning efforts to give it a morphological coherence, and continues to pose formidable challenges to design professionals and policy makers alike.

Beginning in the mid 20th century, major infrastructural modernization and urban renewal schemes in Istanbul have obliterated much of the historical residential fabric of the city and erased from collective memory many buildings and urban spaces where public life was staged during the late Ottoman and early Republican periods. The construction of Bosporus bridges and connecting highway systems have triggered the expansion of the urban footprint, changing Istanbul’s urban image from a historic “shore city” to that of a gigantic, shapeless “hinterland sprawl”. Since 2002, the aggressive construction boom and urban renewal schemes resulting from the neo-liberal policies of the current government have taken this century-long unraveling of Istanbul to unprecedented new levels, with serious threats to the city’s historical heritage, collective memory, environmental sustainability, and social harmony.

Two characteristics of this modern urban history are significant for the work of the Istanbul portal. The first has to do with actors and agencies. In line with Turkey’s long traditions of powerful central state and weak local governance, the primary actor and decision-maker in this process has almost invariably been the national government, without accountability, without effective oversight from experts, and above all, without the participation of ordinary Istanbulites whose lives are directly affected. The second salient feature of Istanbul’s urban history, largely resulting from the citizens’ lack of power or even a voice, is the palpable sense of loss, melancholy and nostalgia that permeates so much of the literature, films and representations of Istanbul. This unfolds as a love-hate relationship between the city and its inhabitants: the city is the source of pleasure and frustration in equal measures; people feel disconnected not only from the past, the urban traces of which are erased constantly, but also from the future which they are powerless to affect.

To address the above and make them visible and legible in multiple scales, our research seeks to produce timelines and layered maps to show the development of the urban form over time, especially the expansion of transportation infrastructure, the transformation of public spaces, and the changes in urban fabric, all affecting the social topography and the collective experience of the city. Non-Muslim communities, ethnic and religious minorities, and poor migrants from rural Anatolia have been the groups particularly affected by the spatial practices of urban modernization and national homogenization, resulting in “silenced histories” whose spatial traces we seek to uncover. Supplementing digital techniques of mapping and data visualization with more traditional sources of humanities research (texts, films, photographs, literary sources, publications, memoirs etc), we hope to produce a digital platform for open-ended, continuously revised, cumulative research on what has now become a discipline of its own under the rubric of “Istanbul Studies.”

COURSES

ISTANBUL: URBAN HISTORY RESEARCH SEMINAR

ARCHITECTURE IN THE EARLY MODERN MEDITERRANEAN WORLD: A CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE

ISTANBUL: FROM IMPERIAL CAPITAL TO GLOBAL CITY

URBAN FARMING: A NEW PHENOMENON?

STAGING THE CITY: URBAN FORM AND PUBLIC LIFE IN ISTANBUL

FIELDWORK

ISTANBUL ON-SITE RESEARCH SEMINAR

METROPOLITAN ISTANBUL TODAY

HISTORIC PENINSULA AND OTTOMAN CITY

BOSPORUS TOUR BY BOAT

GALATA-PERA + 19TH CENTURY MODERNIZATION

ISTANBUL STUDENT RESEARCH: KARAKÖY

Second Bosporus

STUDENT WORK

THE DEVELOPMENT OF ACCESSIBILITY TO PUBLIC SPACE IN AND AROUND GULHANE PARK

Industrial Heritages: A Mirror of Modernization’s Influence in the Golden Horn, Istanbul

EXPLORING ISTANBUL WITH ORHAN PAMUK AND AHMET HAMDI TANPINAR

HAGIA SOPHIA

Armenian Architects and the Landscape of Istanbul

Shipyards in Turkey

Wet Politics

The Panorama

An Interactive Visual History of Tophane

Transformation and Persistence of Public and Private Edges Along the Bosporus Shoreline

COLLABORATORS

KADIR HAS UNIVERSITY – ISTANBUL STUDIES CENTER

Kadir Has University (KHU) was founded in 1997 in Istanbul. A private university, it has seven faculties: Engineering, Sciences and Humanities, Economics and Administrative Sciences, Communication, Law, and Fine Arts, as well as several vocational schools. It is dedicated to becoming a leader in the educational and cultural fields in Turkey, as well as establishing itself as an international center for research and scientific development. Prof. Mustafa Aydın is the rector of the university. “Istanbul Studies Center” directed by Professor Murat Güvenç is a major research center within the University and is collaborating with the Istanbul Portal of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative.


FRENCH INSTITUTE OF ANATOLIAN STUDIES (IFEA)

French Institute of Anatolian Studies is a research institution connected to French and European Foreign Ministries and The National Center for Scientific Research of France. It seeks to support and direct scientific research in Humanities and Social Sciences related to Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. Archaeology, Ottoman and Turkish History and Contemporary Studies (including urban history, urban politics, cultural heritage, and urban mobility) are the main areas of ongoing research. The Institute offers unique resources to researchers with its rich Library, map collection and photography archive.


AGA KHAN PROGRAM FOR ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE

Based at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) is dedicated to the study of Islamic art and architecture, urbanism, landscape design, and conservation – and the application of that knowledge to contemporary design projects. The goals of the program are to improve the teaching of Islamic art and architecture – to promote excellence in advanced research – to enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture, urbanism, and visual culture in light of contemporary theoretical, historical, critical, and developmental issues – and to increase the visibility of Islamic cultural heritage in the modern Muslim world. Established in 1979, AKPIA is supported by an endowment from His Highness the Aga Khan. AKPIA’s faculty, students, and alumni have played a substantial role in advancing the practice, analysis, and understanding of Islamic architecture as a discipline and cultural force.