|The Seventh Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2005|
Hadas Rix, The Technion, Israel
Short surfing in the internet reveals the glamorous tourist pictures of Hagia Sophia, Suleymaniye mosque and Kapaliçarsi. Istanbul is both the nearest Asian city to Europe and the nearest European city to Asia. It is a city of complexity and contradiction, a colorful meeting place for people from different cultures and beliefs. The oriental Bazaars and urban spaces located in the city center manifest its diversity and bring the city story to life with a unique authentic scent each day.
Social programs and activities illuminate the complex reality of the Istanbul metropolis from a different angle. Reactions to the social distress include the UN conference on human settlements, known as Habitat II, "The Manager"- a continuing education publication for improving health services, and also various events and forums held in the city such as the European Social Forum Preparatory Assembly 2004 - Istanbul.
In the last twenty years, Turkey has been experiencing a big migration influx from rural to urban areas. About 400,000 people migrate to Istanbul each year. As a consequence, the population of the city which was 3.5 million in 1980 is now just over 12 million. Due to these immense migrations, new settlements in the city have been erupting. In 1996, about 60% of Istanbul's housing was informal or what others would call squatter settlements. These mass migrations also created social instabilities in the new communities which primarily affected women and children in unemployment, improper education, health-care and welfare.
This situation is both concrete and relevant to the place I come from. The state of Israel is an immigrant state. Immigration and population exchanges are part of everyday reality. For example, during 1990-1995 1.5 million people from the former Soviet Union immigrated to Israel, constituting over 20% of the overall population. The peace process in the Middle-East involves the exchange of population and of land. Evacuating the Jewish population from the Gaza strip stands in the center of a hot public debate in the Israeli street today. Palestinian refugee camps are another side of the same problem.
The slums inhabitants suffer from economic discrimination and exploitation. They are cheap labor for the industry, not unionized and work for half the minimum wage. The minimum wage at the moment is around 110 -120$ per month as compared to the personal gross income of 3000$. This situation can be a serious obstacle for Turkey's plans to enter the European Union in the coming years. The population's distress is reflected by the Turkish political map. The Islamic Welfare Party is supported by about 25 percent of the country's population, by far the most popular of the seven major political parties in Turkey-a country that has been strictly secularist since its founding in 1923. A similar situation exists also in Israel - the orthodox Jewish parties won almost 20% of parliament seats, by far over their electoral power.
The social awakening in Turkey came from local and international social organizations. A Community based services model was proposed and implemented in several slum areas surrounding Istanbul. One extraordinary intervention project is being held in the new settlement slum Kaynarca. In a slum area such as Kaynarca, 97% of the women do not work. The women who live in slums of big metropolitans are usually housewives and live in isolated communities of their origin. Therefore, the Foundation employs women from these communities to work in the projects. The project goals are to provide counseling and education to women in reproductive health, family planning, family health care, literacy and vocational courses. This exemplary project shows the importance of combining the social, architectural, educational and economical dimensions in helping to improve the slum inhabitants' lives.
Motivation for the Application
In light of my essay, I intend to extend the research on successful public places. Parallel to the social solutions, a solution must be found to bring sustainable fast and cheap housing to the slums. These combined approaches need to provide the inhabitants' basic needs for dwellings, but at the same time produce a successful public place within the slums. As a socially-committed architect, I wish to search and find new intervention possibilities to improve existing slum urban structures without destroying them. The slums' physical structure is dictated by an old Ottoman law: many of the slums inhabitants reach the city and build their houses at night, preventing the authorities from dismantling them. The outcomes of such modus are low-quality housing and complete absence of urban hierarchy. Building successful public places takes time. House after house, street after street, until a space created for people and not for population is formed. When hundreds of new houses appear and others are demolished every day, like a notebook sheet filled with corrections, the reality formed is chaotic and unstable. Imagine a situation where every time you open your front door the way to the living room changes?!. Aldo Van Eyck quotes Alberti: "A house must be like a small city...a city must be like a large house if it is to be a real city". Undoubtedly, the challenge is to succeed in creating a sustainable environment that can grow without breaking its urban sequence. I see it as a personal challenge with global and national significance to become a socially-committed architect in the modern world. Investigating these problems, aspiring to find new solutions and providing the possibility for decent life for each and every one of us. I believe that the solution to such an international problem must carry a multidisciplinary and multinational character.
1. Discover the main problems facing the integration between slum areas and the rest of the city. Define the basic needs not provided today, in each of the dimensions mentioned above.
2. Investigate the urban spaces in slums and discover how the inhabitants' social needs are provided. Define how these spaces refer to the urban system of the metropolis.
3. Explore new tools and technologies of developing source-efficient dwellings. Examine size, shape, energy and time-efficient factors in creating sustainable infrastructure conditions for the urban poor.
4. Search synthesis possibilities for complementary fusion between social programs and architectural projects in order to promote the slums population.
5. Establish an international student thinking group for further brainstorming and conjoint research that will continue after the congress is closed.
UIA congress " Attain an understanding in the general themes of the UIA 2005 Istanbul congress: architecture for sustainable future, architecture and society, culture identity and habitat. Take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the UIA congress taking place each third year.
" To gain an understanding of the proceedings involved in large congresses by assisting Professor Anna Rubbo.
" Attend selected UIA working bodies: exhibitions, presentations and workshops.
" Attend "Globalstudio" design charette.
" Attend the conference stream, entitled "People Building Better Cities". Explore the different sessions given, with a focus on the connection between technology and social and economic needs.
" Visit the grand bazaar of ArchitecrureS and fair grounds in the city. Exploring the different new approaches and ideas presenting the congress themes in the bazaar.
Explore Istanbul's city center, identifying its public spaces and sources of success. Visit specific sites: Kapaliçarsi, the great bazaar in Nuri Osmaniye, Misir çarsisi, Hagia Sophia and Suleymaniye mosque.
Explore the definition of urban public and private spaces in Istanbul's slums. Especially the slum area of Alibeykoy, Where the "Safe Motherhood" Project of the Human Resources Development Foundation (HRDF) and Turkish non-governmental organization (NGO) took place. Thus observing the benefits of international and national social health projects in slum areas.
Identify the potential linkage between the slum areas and the city's well-based areas.
Investigate existing social projects and community centers in the slum areas and their affect on their environment.
Summaries of the lectures, workshops, etc. attended.
Watercolor and pencil sketches of visited sites.
Recordings and text summaries of unofficial interviews made during the congress and city tours.
Photographs taken on sites.
Material distributes during the congress.
25/06-27/06 - Gaining initial acquaintance with Istanbul and with the congress sites and activities. Establish connections with congress participants and locals.
28/06-02/07 - Participate in the international design charette to be held at the Istanbul congress.
03/07-07/07 - Attend the "People building better cities" conference. Special interest lectures:
-"Architecture education for the emerging vernacular city", Howard Davis.
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