1-DEALING WITH THE SPATIAL PROBLEMS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF TAKSIM SQUARE
Taksim Square is the literal hub of the modernization of İstanbul. In rather rough terrain, the modernist expansion of İstanbul pursues the histo-topographical expansion route of İstanbul, “the roof-line” which spans from the historical central business district Sirkeci into the south to the primary modern central business district Maslak in the north. Taksim Square is the most important “plaque tournante”, rotating plate of the route. The square bends the route to the Şişli-Büyükdere axis with the inter-connection of the İstiklal and Cumhuriyet Streets.
At the present day, two major problems are observed in this interconnection which harm the urban experience: the lack of enclosure of the square and the disappearance of urban continuity within Cumhuriyet Street which cause spatial orientation and articulation problems in urban space.
1.1. Curing Cumhuriyet Route
Taksim Square introduces the route with the Park No: 2 via Gezi Park and bends it towards the Büyükdere axis simultaneously. Therefore Cumhuriyet Street and Gezi Park are suitable to form the continuity of the urban space. Though especially after 2012 Pedestrianization Project, Cumhuriyet Street lost its connectedness with both İstiklal and Şişli axis. The proposal suggests a public interface between Cumhuriyet Street and Gezi Park which refunctioning axis as a hybrid urban space that contains urban green, cultural and retail functions programmatically and morphologically. Taksim Square also used to be the main entrance of İstanbul for the visitors, and it is still admitted as the arriving point of the touristic experience, as the primary drop-zone of İstanbul Airport’s transportation services is located at the junction between Asker Ocağı Street and Cumhuriyet Street. In the proposal this area is designed as a center for tourism with information centers, specialized bus decks as a node of tourism and guides for ongoing cultural activities. Cumhuriyet Street will be redesigned as a green and well-scaled pedestrian axis with restaurant and retail in Talimhane side; tourist center, art spaces and transportation infrastructures articulated in the Park’s edge, and a central route which is designed as the urban meeting space surrounded by trees. For the purpose the entrance of the underground connection relocated.
1.2. Enclosure And Human Scale
Urban squares are fundamentally framed openings in urban patterns. For understanding them, it is needed to clarify the enclosure of the urban space. The nature of the urban space is fundamentally characterized by rhizomatic actions in the city. It is the medium of urban life. Therefore a public square is a place of the enclosure of root-free mixture of actions and urban image patterns. However, continuous contextual eviscerations in the history of the Taksim Square and its surroundings harm the urban characteristics and sense of place. One of the primary aims of the proposal is to re-define post-evisceration disproportionality of the square with transformations due to human scale and re-articulate urban spatial experience. Proposal suggests a new and proper human scale ratio in the Taksim Square by re-framing it as two interconnected parts. First part is The Republic Monument Square which surrounded Republic Monument and connects İstiklal Street axis and Cumhuriyet Street axis as the plaque tournante. The second part is Gezi Park Square as the main urban event and meeting area which surrounded by Gezi Park, Atatürk Cultural Center. These interconnected areas, their interactions with neighbors and each other create hybrid “spaces to exist” for ongoing and emerging urban flows to reload the urban context.
1.3. Vertical Urban Space: Landscape And Underground Orientation
Taksim Square is a central point and an intersection between contemporary economical development axis and the historical part of the city. On the other hand transportation infrastructure and current underground facilities are built without a proper visionary organization in time. To improve the spatial quality of transportation infrastructure of the square horizontally and vertically, proposal redesigns underground connection between Cumhuriyet Street and Tarlabaşı Avenue, subway and ground connections considering the natural light, fresh air accessibility with providing spatial awareness and hybrid design context. In these easy to access hybrid connections, people can experience the spatial connections as total spaces, those are simultaneously used as transportation circulation aisles and urban facilities such as art galleries and retail areas.
1.4. Extending Gezi Park
Even though originally Henri Prost planned it as the ecological and topographical extension of Maçka Park (Park No:2), today Gezi Park became the sole green infrastructure in a very busy cultural, tourism, retail and business district. The design proposal suggests extending the urban green and recreational pattern of Gezi Park to the proposed event and meeting area as Gezi Square to define the urban characteristics in it while preventing to restrain its multi-layered potential. Extending Gezi Park is a decision to handle contemporary urban semantics of seamless urban continuity and human-scale friendly design while protecting collective memory of the urban topography. Moreover, it is aimed to transform the square as the contemporary face of İstanbul as an active and multi-functional green square.
2 FUTURE VISIONS
2.1. Urban Living Room
The design proposal aims to re-organize the square according to the urban approaches and debates of the 21st century, in its context of urban life, problematics and threads. The proposal reorganizes Gezi Park as an active and joyful urban park for the innovative living and workstyle of the up-coming era. The new free and creative work methods allow people to spend more time in the places rich in terms of recreational and cultural facilities. Additionally, interdisciplinary post-climate-change-crisis projections suggest: smaller homes, greener and actively used urban infrastructures and proactively used urban recreational areas and squares. The proposal is well-aware how the inclusiveness of the square is important for each citizen no matter their socio-economical situation, age and disabilities. Project is mused by the citizens who spend time together and experience a very broad spectrum of urban activities. For the purpose the opening of the park to the proposed event square also designed as the open stage of the activities and contains the art and culture pavillion that periodically changed due to actual events in the city. Pavillion is also used as the start and the finish of the open-air city museum. Moreover current pool area redesigned as a dry pool mini-activity square that people can also refresh in hot temperatures. The very center of the park reorganized as the recreational green. These urban living room activities are supported by the technical infrastructures such as wifi and charging hubs for mobile devices. 2.1. Urban Living Room Refreshing at the Square Resreshing daily life at yearly pavillion After work routine Bicycle lanes for safe connections Urban Scale and Micro-mobile connections Free and Creative work and living spaces loaded with amenities and services A nice lunch break at the Park Children’s playground: follies for being creative and amused.
2.2. An Open Air City Museum
The Tracks Of The Modernization Right along with Prost and Mongeri’s touches, lots of traces of modern history surrounded Taksim Square. The proposal suggests an open-air city-museum that helps observers to track Turkey’s modernization with the perspectives from the keypoints and assist it with “urban archive mobile application” which synchronic with the boards and all the track. The museum aims to document subjects such as technological developments, political affairs and scenes, social changes and modernization of the urban form.
Globally, transportation methods in metropoles are rapidly changing due to climate change prevention policies and the new urban lifestyle. Thus the design proposal suggests changing mobility philosophy of the area drastically. It limits car roads, built more accessible pedestrian walks, offers bicycle lanes and park zones linked with neighbor districts. It also installs bicycle, e-scooter and disabled-friendly micro-mobility vehicle hubs with shared use opportunities and wifi connections. Additionally they are integrated with metro stations and easily accessible from all public transportation. For the micro-mobility purposes and stronger connections with AKM, Mete Street redesigned as a one direction, low-speed road. The proposal constitutes a Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) for Taksim Square and its surroundings. The zone will be free for local residents and suitable for retail transportation and projected to lower individiual car usage of the area.
2.4. Urban Livability
The proposal committed to maintain the security, sense of safety and feeling of autonomy at the same time. It adds kiosks in the park and relocates security facilities to central but overlooked locations. It also suggests lighting design that smooths transitions between heavy and light, underground and surface, crowded and quiet urban spaces. It considered the vision and visibility of pedestrian areas and vertical urban spaces for the safe and vital day and nightlife. It also aims to minimize disturbance on flora with suitable light types and design.
The proposal aims to transform Taksim Square and Gezi Park as the keystone of the resiliency infrastructure of İstanbul. Gezi Park will become one of the most important entrances of the evacuation corridor. Transformable spaces are tailored to respond to natural disasters which include solar-powered emergency survival shelter, water and storage facilities enough for 9.000 persons in 72 hours after a disaster. It is planned to use surrounding building roofs for collecting rainwater and solar power. Undergrounds of Gezi Park’s dry pool location, Atatürk Library zone and Gezi Square will be redesigned to be the storage tanks for the water supplies. Also emergency food supplies will be located under the green terraces. Additionally, there will be stored light-weight structures for emergency use in site.
3.2. Green And Blue Infrastructures
The proposal aims to vitalize green and blue infrastructures in the project area with creating green space networks, restorating self-sufficient native flora and environment, designing natural and urban spaces provide climatic comfort, permable patterns and mitigation to the urban heat island effect. Broad green and blue infrastructure design begins with the square and meets Maçka Park and Bosphorus; it aims to be a prototype for the hybrid futurescape of the city. According to the proposal, urban heat island effect is expected to be mitigated around 18% by the usage of light color pavements, new green spaces, trees and terraces. Also due to the lower vehicle usage, anthropogenic emission and rise in the evapotranspiration in the area, this level tends to reach 20–25 %. Despite current temperature difference between the square and the park as 2–2.5°C, proposal projected to decrease this around 1–1.5°C in the summertime.