Atelier Istanbul I


2010 - 2013

The first Atelier Istanbul focused on Arnavutköy. This still very green area near Istanbul is covered by water reservoirs and farmland that are of great significance to the city. But its ecological functions are under constant and momentous pressure as a result of sprawling urbanization.

In 2011 the IABR set up the Atelier Istanbul together with the municipality of Arnavutköy. The Atelier first developed a Strategic Vision and Action Plan. An international team worked on the assignment in a multidisciplinary way involving every layer of government in the effort. The core design team consists of H+N+S Landscape Architects from Holland and 51N4E and AWB from Belgium.

Sariyer, Istanbul. Photo: George Brugmans
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The IABR’s began to be active in Istanbul in 2008 when the city became headquarters for one of the six major research projects of the 4th IABR, and part of its main exhibition Open City: Designing Coexistence. Refuge called attention to how displacement, whether because people flock to the city because of hunger, poverty or war, produces spaces that range from luxurious gated communities to overcrowded slums, and how these are all threats to urbanity and to the ideal of the Open City.


Refuge involved an intensive knowledge exchange process among designers, academics, and administrators from Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Istanbul, organized by the IABR through 2009 and 2010. One of the participants was the Municipality of Arnavutköy. Situated in the north of the European side of Istanbul and bordering the Black Sea, Arnavutköy holds crucial drinking water reservoirs for the Istanbul metropolitan region. This area is largely agrarian. But as the city advances, tension is growing between ecological interests and ongoing urbanization. The challenge is to incorporate urban developments in the existing productive landscape.

It was immediately clear that Arnavutköy is exemplary for the tremendous challenges that Istanbul, just like many other large urban regions everywhere in the world, is now facing. All around the world the menacing imbalance between ecology and urbanisation is a problem facing many metropolitan regions. The team of Atelier Istanbul is therefore working on a local solution that can also serve as an example for other municipalities in the north of Istanbul.
Closing the water cycle. Image: Atelier Istanbul

The Strategic Plan laid the foundation for the sustainable development of Arnavutköy. This plan was then further elaborated into an Action Plan and designs for two concrete pilot projects, all presented at the main exhibition of the 5th IABR: Making City. Subsequently, the projects were further developed in 2012 and then presented in the exhibition Making City Istanbul at the Istanbul Modern, as part of the 1st Istanbul Design Biennial.

The pilot projects developed by the IABR Atelier Istanbul have been hailed as a success. Flood protection will be built along a section of the flood-prone Bolluça River, simultaneously creating an urban park and an ‘eco-corridor’.