INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE: ISTANBUL ON THE WAY OF ‘LONDONISATION’ by EMRE AROLAT

Istanbul is a rapidly developing city, in particular the last 15 years, with this development running alongside the trend for globalisation in Turkey's political and economical policies, the latter being given the label conservative-neoliberalism. As a result of this, strong relationships between private companies (both national and international) and the government have been established. On the one hand, the city has gone through a number of rapid urban transformation projects carried out by construction companies approved by the government, with the gentrification of neighbourhoods inside the city bringing with it the expectation of changes in social structure and of higher rents. On the other hand, the city has seen the sale of public land in the centre of the city to a company from Dubai, which plans to build Istanbul's highest tower. Such developments have a tangible destructive effect on urban memory. The city is being ‘sold’ while disregarding what it really is. It is being administered not as a place where people live, create their memories and belong to, but more like a company whose disparate elements can be altered easily. It needs to have the right feel so that it can function as a big international brand for the consumer society. International stakeholders keep their hand in, even as local ones regard it as an opportunity to upgrade themselves to a higher level. Istanbul is being conquered again – this time by anyone who has the money and wants it bad enough. This scenario of Istanbul triggers an image of Thatcher-era London in our minds; a city where economic liberalisation, free trade and open markets found its physical embodiment. And thus we come to the question: Is Istanbul on the way to ‘Londonisation’?

talk by Emre Arolat
debate with Professor Charles Jencks & Emre Arolat
moderated by Professor Suha Ozkan
after party

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