Last few days Istanbul has been the site of mass protests and battles raging for the Gezi Park (translating as stroll park) in Taksim District where the prime minister Erdogan's government wants to build a "Shopping Mall," a kitschy copy of a 19th. century building, Taksim Military Barracks, that was demolished in 1940 on the recommendations of French architect Henri Prost who is known for his work with Tony Garnier.
The morphing of the existing park with grown trees to enclosed courtyard style kitsch shopping mall.
The decision to demolish the park is really a most recent assault in accordance with the over commercialization of this historic city of 16 million people. The blunt action to send bulldozers to uproot the trees certainly hit a nerve with thousands of protesters who are fed up with government's draconian measures of late, threatening the basic liberties of Turkish society at large and the invasion of the publicness of the open spaces in Turkey's largest city.
The oppressively social and urbanistic nature of the unilateral action of the government and the regional authorities seem to hit a particular nerve with the public who has been occupying the park in order to save it with an unprecedented determination.
This is an important turning point in Turkish urbanism when the public is showing an increasing resistance to violent police action never seen before for the urban design policies of the government. This is a behind the doors deal of the government with their favored development partners for consumerist profit making. This is at the cost of public access to much needed green spaces in this densely overbuilt city. This is a top down urban policy repeated across in this world treasure city with 4000 years of cultural history.
This is now a movement in Istanbul and must be supported by architects and urbanists world over.
Show your support for Istanbul, spread the news and write to Turkish embassies in your country.
This is the time for solidarity.
We are with you Istanbul.
Archinect Editorial Team