Making cities along with water: The Arnavutköy Municipality, Istanbul

Istanbul is home of nearly 13,5 million people — population growth over the last decades corresponding to 45%. During the last decades, the density per inhabitant is 2,523 /km2. Its land area tripled from approximately 1,800 km2 to 5,300 km2. If including another 1.5 million workers that circulates from suburbs to the city's center every day, its peak time population reaches 15 million. Istanbul comprises many neighborhoods among them, Arnavutköy, a neighborood part of the Besiktas district, located in the European side of the Bosphorus.
Istanbul is facing with rapid urban expansion. Observers estimate that its population will be rising to 22 million by 2025 — precisely a projected growth based on 14 people per hour from 2005 to 2025 [For data and further information: see LSE Urban Age].

Suggested essays
Istanbul city of Intersection | LSE Cities/The Urban Age

As a megalopolis, Istanbul combines interconnected issues of the impact of rapid growth in urbanization, vehicle use and industrialization, the effect of climate change,  on natural resources. Indeed, as a response to this expansion, the city is confronting with ecological pressures among them: water, natural resources, arable land. As urban density increases, natural resources, arable land, woods and water decrease. These constraints, thus, will also be having severe effects on quality of life, health, and well-being, food and wood. Air pollution is rising — average PM10 levels about 55 µgm-3 (LSE Urban Age) — and will be becoming one of the challenging environmental issues of the city and its region alike — quality of life, clean water, health. Hence the city administration's efforts to limit the population to nearly 16 million.

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Megacities as hot spots of air pollution in the East Mediterranean | Maria Kanakidou et al. || Atmospheric Environment ||| Elsevier

Making City Istanbul is a collaborative project led by the IABR and the Istanbul Design Biennial that will open this October. The design research is conducted by a landscape architecture firm and an architecture firm: Dutch H + N + S Landscape Architects and Belgian 51N4E and Architecture Workroom Brussels.
Arnavutköy is a typical site that must do with a juxtaposition of land demand, urban growth, and ecology pressures, as mentioned above. Largely a hydrologic area, it possesses ecological features — water basin and forests. The water reservoirs aside, the district is also known for being largely agrarian. The video below depicts main ecological and urban issues of Istanbul and a design proposal to adjust and recalibrate these issues. As this video says, Arnavutköy's features are under pressures due to increasingly energy-intensive large-scale urban developments — equipment, infrastructures such as airports, road and transport, among others — and population growth. These urban development intensify land pressures. As a consequence, these pressures will be causing not only water but also agriculture pressures. As urbanization increases, agricultural lands decrease causing agricultural crop loss, and, as a result of this, food pressures.

The aim to the design as showed in the video is to offer public amenities while preserving natural resources and the water basin. Because the water basin is central to the district — a network of water reservoirs provide the city with drinking water —, the design proposal consists to recognize the boundaries of the water reservoirs,  reinforce the conception of water as central resource. Intervention in areas like Arnavutköy requires the invention of a new vocabulary adapted to local contexts and shared value decision-making. In her essay titled Insurgent Ecologies: (Re)Claiming Ground in Landscape and Urbanism, Nina-Marie Lister proposes adaptive design,

Suggested books
Ecological Urbanism | Mohsen Mostafavi, Gareth Doherty (eds) || Lars Müller Publishers
The Landscape Urbanism Reader | Charles Waldheim || Princeton Architectural Press
Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain | Stan Allen, Marc McQuade (eds.) || Lars Müller Publishers

to refer to an integrated, whole-system, learning-based approach to the management of human-ecological interactions, with explicit implications for planning interventions and resulting design forms.

Lister goes on,

Adaptive design draws on current ecological science and is a response to urbanizing landscapes that are under pressure from competing resource demands and land uses. [It] constitutes decision making that is inclusive of multiple perspectives, adaptive to regular but unpredictable environmental change, and both resilient and responsive to these changes, responding, for example, to new ecological information in a timely way, before critical and irreversible thresholds are crossed.
Put it simply, adaptive design requires anticipation, adaptation, responsiveness, and flexibility. It must integrate site's topography, ecological issues, social and economic features, urban growth and conflicting land-use goals. Failures, as part of adaptive design, are also keys to problem-address areas that combine ecological issues and urban growth. The design proposed in this video lies in a cycle that connects water — city — agriculture. A design as tool to preserve water zones, ecological agriculture while integrating new patterns of growth, to combine the city's topography and its macroform. A design, then, that seems to stress anticipation, responsiveness and resilience as core elements to calibrate this site. 
A new vocabulary, as mentioned above, supposes responsive interventions, anticipation and adaptation strategies, in the form of scalable, mutable soft systems for such ecological complexities, but a design that, also, takes account of not only ecological features but also economic and social features as well as centuries of history of the city, here Istanbul. If I refer to this video, the design proposal based on the cycle water — city — agriculture attempts to elaborate an adaptive language consisting of the city as provider of the necessary resources for agriculture, and as protective tool for the water reservoirs, "which in turn feeds the city with clean water." An approach based on anticipation and adaptation strategies understands that it is possible to juxtapose urban density and natural resources.

Watch the video below for the presentation of the design proposal

Local curator
Asu Aksoy (member of the 5th IABR: Making City Curator Team, Bilgi University Istanbul) Municipality of Arnavutköy
Design Team
Architecture Workroom Brussels
H+N+S Landscape Architects
Partie involved
Istanbul Metropolitan Region Authority (including the Istanbul Metropolitan Planning Office), national government of Turkey, ISKI water services department and other administrative authorities, NL agency.

Source: Here.

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