Gated Communities in Istanbul

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The background

Istanbul is one of the prominent business, Cultural, tourist and transportation hubs in Europe as well as the Middle East which also contributes 22 per cent of Turkey’s GDP with 17.8 per cent of the national population. (21)

The economic activity is rooted geographically and historically as the case with many global cities. From the Ottoman period, Istanbul has been the major city in term of social dynamic and economic activity. In The aftermath of the Second World War, the industrial capital throughout the nationalist and develop mentalist time with experiment of large inward migration. The rapid expansion is mainly through spreading outwards gecekondu settlements near the factory on the moving edges of Istanbul which displaced the manifestation of the golden age of informal urbanization. Whereas, with the introduction of the Neoliberal strategy which started from the 1980s, it has entered into a new stage that the stroke of nation’s integration into supranational capitalist dynamics is focused on Istanbul.(book) At that period of time, the luxury upper class residential area and globalizing commercial spaces spread outwards of the city; Meanwhile, gecekondu settlements have continued to grow. Thus, the great disparity of income, wealth and power deepen in Istanbul as the metropolis expressed in spatial segregations (book; keyder2005)

It could argue that global capitalism is the source of centralization and withdrawal for the pattern of growth. In the recent decades, Istanbul has been considered by Turkish capital and state as a supranational regional economic centre, helping Turkey to take a further step into internationalization and global capitalism as the financial hub for the East and the West.(ppt) To implement the acceleration, the Istanbul Metropolitan Planning (IMP) was established by the JDP government. There are two essential aims for the planning authority; the first is to decentralize the manufacturing industry towards outskirts of the built-up area. The second is to transform the central city towards finance services, up-market consumption, so moving the growth of up-market uses from the outskirts to the centre. (book)These transformation also led important functional changes in the central city like Eminé°Š? Which was the city’s oldest business center now lost its production and service functions but act as great touristic and cultural roles.17 The main treatment for the spatial restructuring is through large-scale urban redevelopment which including the three large seaports at Zeytinburnu, Haydarpasa and Galata are for trade center. Meanwhile, the new sub center is located in the outer of both sides of the city to accommodate the lower level and more local commercial activity to ensure the central city to be available for high level business sectors.

The internationalized uses for redevelopment of central city proceed partly on empty land in the central city which owned by the public authority. At the same time, the IMP has seen a ‘rent gap’ in rundown residential areas with poor inhabitants so in the inner city, these areas are targeted as major planned regeneration projects. Firstly, planning in the area where the historic buildings in city center that occupied by the ethnic minority of all classes who were expelled in the 1920s from the country by the nationalist regime. Secondly, planning in the area where the gecekondu settlements built by immigrants in the past 50 years which means they are composed to move out. Before, these inhabitants who work in these areas are mostly employed in informal service sectors and small-scale economic improvisation in the central city. Even more worse, because of the global crisis the unskilled jobs are hard to find for livelihood, the deterioration of poverty happens with the ethnic and social background of recent migrants like Kurdish migrants, the Roma population of Sulukule, African refugees. Thus, without title to the land, these people are unable to participate in the increasing market-oriented housing economy.(re) The threat is not only for the income polarisation分åŒ- but also it affected social, cultural, and spatial exclusion and perhaps a permanent sub-proletariat.( Re)

For example, in recent regeneration project in the Sulukule district which is one of the oldest Roma neighborhoods been occupied by Anatolian Gypsies since Byzantine times will replace the building with ottoman style villa. It is the MHA led project that propose a hundred building are to be demolished with all 620 the tenants are evicted. The two options is either to buy new apartment at a high price or buy social housing units in the outskirts of the city at below- market rates but it is 45km away, thus it become really costly and difficult to access to employment in the city center.

The other similar regeneration project,kucukcekmece, to generate enormous residential developments which close to a new planned commercial growth area in the outer west of the Istanbul. The MHA has constructed a huge increased density of 100,000 housing unites with consumption space.(book) However, the MHA demolished previous 2000 squatter settlements which move the owners to social housing in less valuable areas. The poorest renters were neglect when they couldn’t pay the price for the provided units.


The gecekondu settlements are consolidated. The Mass Housing Administration participated in this development by construct high-rise residential units for low income groups in outskirts of the city and some of the Original residents could leave the previous neighbourhood and choose for middle-class residential developments. Coalitions happened for the last 15 years and profited from the development. As a result, the city could ended up with an enormous bubble of excess real estate (49)


In Istanbul there are more than half illegally buildings where large population growth was accommodated on these productions of settlements. For the end of populism it demonstrated that land had finally become a commodity(RE)which naturally become favorable for speculation as more and more land was pulled into the market sphere. However, the global wave of speculative investment in these enormous developments deciding the spatial expansion of the urban city.(49)

In the 1980s, the earlier phase of the global vision was mainly driven by the Turkish origin conglomerate capital. The new round of urban globalization is not only driven by real estate but also a cultural project. However, it could still argue that the redevelopment agenda to turn city spaces into the profitable Assets; meanwhile, to adapt the demands of expanding wealth or for tourism, for commercial uses. (49)The global Investors are attracted to the rapidly increased consumer demand for high-quality housing, commercial apace and cultural tourism in the most profitable area. ????As a result, It can be seen in a 5.5 km2 large redevelopment project, master planned by Zaha Hadid, in the Kartal district along the Marmara shore which hosts 100 industrial factory. The former Mayor of Kartal had indicated the plan to attract US$ 5 billion from global investors to develop a yacht marina adapting 1,000 boats with Hotels, plazas and residential area. These kind of transformation rely on the alliance of national and local political intention and economic interests, moreover it is also depended on the scale and scope with global capital entered the city. (49)

The relative economic change is the reality that modern urban developments have homogenized building forms. The standardization has progressed because of the building can be globally traded which are equally the same in all places. The social consequences of standardization is the result of homogeneity in built form affects segregation it is efficient to construct entire communities destined for certain social groups. 12

Gated communities appeared in Turkey in the 1980s as important project of urban

transformation and expansion in the city which driven by an increasingly powerful real estate market and accepted by politics and planning. This progress is not only changing urban and architectural patterns in the city but also the implication on the social and economic structures at the neighborhood level.(web)For example G鰇t黵k, as a pioneer of this mode of development in the 1990s real estate developers discovered the potential for the up market housing development. Thus, more than 30 gated communities have been built closly. As a result, the population increases from 1,500 in 1993 to approximately 20,000 in 2008 with increasing land value.()

The area has been transformed into an island among islands with necessary network of economic,social encounters which connect Gé°‡t黵k’s seemingly the fragment into an integrated economic whole.(5)However, the gated communities still effect on crystallization of the class-based spatial segregation.

Istanbul is acknowledged that has a proper system of public transport constitutes to counter the huge threat to mobility by planned motorways, widened roads and introduced new traffic lanes. However, it could creates further divisions and destroy the city’s delicate neighborhood structure. The original street patterns of the Gecekondu and yap-sat districts, with their complex social and micro-economic structures, and lively street activities are being replaced by the new neighborhoods which consisting of massive blocks with high-rise apartment towers. Besides, a large numbers of diverse population are forced to travel considerable distances for works and even basic needs that further effect on the mobility on all levels.