Sep '06 - Nov '08
Well, after a week and a half of a stomach virus and an infection, I have found the time to post an entry. It was as if the virus was waiting to overcome me until I got back to Vienna, because as soon as we landed, it was hell for a week and a half. I guess it was all the Kebabs I ate on both the European and Asian sides of the city. Oh well, I am glad to report I am feeling much better.
Coop Himmelb[L]au is working on a competition project for a dense urban program containing a shopping mall, residential and office towers, entertainment/event space,etc...so, as a studio, we get the same project for the semester. I think that possibly, Prix might use it as a way to generate ideas for his office because I am told he likes to come to studio and work with students one on one when he has the time, but the possibility that someone's concept would be used for their scheme seems unlikely. Anyhow, we investigated the city and the way it works for a week. I have never seen a city move like Istanbul. You really really feel it. I am not talking about movement in terms of transit, I mean in terms of the city working. In the streets, orders are being carted and driven to fill orders. Men sit anxiously in small offices waiting to fill orders for companies needing shirt made, shoes, pants, etc... These things don't happen in some remote location far from where people live, but throughout the entire city. Families wake up in the morning, and then go downstairs to start work in their shops.
Istanbul is a city of amazing flux-it is amazing what you learn from your cab drivers-when they speak English. When our cab driver was in his mid twenties, Istanbul had a population of just over 1 million people, now in his mid fifties, Istanbul has close to 15 million. Also, only 2% of Istanbul's urban fabric is older than 1950 and every 100 years or so, Istanbul goes through major redevelopment. This was evident as well.
Because the government gave mass amounts of land to private individuals to build on and make places of work, the city reads somewhat as "unfinished" or "in the process of." Literally, this is somewhat true as the government only taxes property once the building on it is finished. In this case, walls are only framed out and roofs are adorned with concrete reinforcement sticking out waiting for something else to be stacked quickly on top.
The Biennial was going on while we were in there which was great. The group of artists that made installations did some very interesting things. Luckily, we had plenty of time to check it all out.
Since the project we are working on focuses on shopping malls, we went to several as a means to investigate them. Overall, they seemed to work like most malls in the US, so nothing new to me, but I think to many students in my studio from Europe (all of them but me) it was more of a new typology. We checked out Foreign Office's new shopping mall over on the Asian side of the city. I think that their attempt to create a public space was successful as many people were actually using it for what it was. The only thing that is ironic about it is that the newer side of Istanbul where the project is located is an area with more car traffic rather than pedestrian. Honestly, the Foreign Office project seemed more suitable on the old side where people might have actually had more opportunity to walk to it. Oh well.
Here are a few pictures from the trip, Later