Suleymaniye Regeneration Area

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Historic Peninsula of Istanbul

Dynaming the Urban Regeneration for All: Improving Alternatives for Social Sustainability of the Suleymaniye Regeneration Process in Istanbul

Name please enter the name here
Place Istanbul
Country Turkey
Topic please enter the topic here
Author(s) Harun Ekinoglu
Completion Please enter the date of completion
Client Please enter the client
Project costs Please enter the costs (if known)
SocialCenter Istanbul.jpg
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Rationale: Why is this case study interesting?

The regeneration project of Suleymaniye area,that exists in the UNESCO world heritage sites list since 1985, is an ongoing process at the core district of Eminonu in Historical Peninsula of Istanbul under the authority of Local Administration of Istanbul. The Case study is focusing on emerging weaknesses of regeneration process such as of disregarding the existing user and their potentials reality for the area.

In this case study, the aim is to analyze an ongoing regeneration process in Istanbul`s Suleymaniye district in order to improve proposals for a comprehensive regeneration process with a strong social dimension. The case study is aiming to combine the physical intervention with the revision of social dynamics by proposals for increasing the distribution of the benefit of regeneration to the all actors existing in Suleymaniye. Strengthening the Public participation and promoting the employability rate by means of reinforcing the local economic activities through the strategic partnership with private sector investors are some most important components of the case study. The objective is offering methods for healing the results of immigration and exile that occurred at the area through the time and increasing social integration and decreasing the rate of alienation by the regeneration process.

In accordance with the intention of Local Administration to return the regeneration process at the historic but slum area of the city, into a existing-inhabitant friendly process; this case study is acting a key role by a comprehensive analysis of ongoing regeneration methodology and its policies . Thus, the results of the case study are expressions of dos and don`ts in order to re-shape the process to be able to share the opportunities of the process and enabling the social and spatial integration of the area to the Metropolitan city whole of Istanbul in economical,spatial and cultural aspects.

Author's perspective

  • What theoretical or professional perspective do you bring to the case study?

As a landscape architect and urban designer, I especially improved a co-thinking on relationship of the space in transformation and its user in transition. My primary demonstration in this case study is the idea of urban space has a potential to initiate a socio-cultural and socio-economic development under a well designed actors and policy network. My aim was to looking for efficient solutions on this axis for this case study.

Landscape and/or urban context

  • Biogeography, cultural features, overall character, history and dynamics

By the beginning of mid 16th century, the district had been called by the name of the Suleymaniye mosque and its complex that was completed in 1557. Suleymaniye had become the second one of the two most important educated/sophisticated people districts in Istanbul. What gave the name of ‘’Suleymaniye’’ to the district is basicly the Suleymaniye Mosque and its Complex that is formed by every level of schools, Madrasas, Darulhadis*, Darussifa*, Darulkurra*, Imaret (Daruzziyafe)*, Hammam, Kervansaray-Tabhane*, Arasta* and Bazaar*. Education in schools and Madrasas was the unique urban characteristics of Suleymaniye what made the district to become an area of highly educated inhabitants throughout the time.

Today in the area, number of buildings with function of being residential units for families decreased and the others are being occupied by the occupiers from the cheap or marginal sectors and students who are studying at Istanbul University. Inhabitants are mostly male and coming to Suleymaniye from different cities of the country by the internal immigration movement for working. There is also a number of dormitories at the district.

Cultural/social/political context

  • Brief explanation of culture, political economy, legal framework

In 20th century, same as the districts surrounding Suleymaniye, the area left her brilliancy and became the habitat of poverty. However she kept inside the functions of education and health until 1950s, and preserved its vernacular architecture even though was damaged throughout the time. Like all other woodwork material based historic Istanbul districts, Suleymaniye had fires and today there is still some streets and houses preserves its historic characteristics in the area.


  • How did the area/project/plan at the focus of the case study evolve?

Illustration: Table or time line

Spatial analysis of area/project/plan

  • What are the main structural features?
  • How has it been shaped? Were there any critical decisions?

Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Core Questions Working Group Public Space and Civic Identity

Who was involved in the participation process?

The idea of regeneration for all is being built on three proposals as the regulation for protecting the renters, revision of existing actors map and creation of social centers for making a participant and democratic platform to share the know-how activity and the common ideas for the project while promoting employment possibilities for the inhabitants. Since according to the related source of problems, the participation process related one has been implemented in following ways.

Source of Problem: The way of stakeholders and local inhabitants` participation to the process will be determined by a public act (Regeneration Policy #5366)

The Problem: The concerns about public participation and social dimension which is necessarily to be thought analytically and underlined for establishing a participatory regeneration process is not expressed in a concrete way where it is supposed to take place in as referred as Public Act. This feature of the law # 5366 makes all the decision-maker authorities to design a regeneration process in different priorities and aspects which cannot be more important than covering and upgrading the area with its existing social context. However, one of the biggest problems for the participation dimension of Suleymaniye Regeneration process is getting its source by an ambiguous definition of public participation at the related policy.

Source of Problem: Existing Actors Map is formed as: Project Leaders Local Administrations --> Financial Authority--> Project Management and Coordination Office--> Authority of Final Approval

The Problem: Existing actors map is one-way vertical and does not contain the NGOs, Private Investors, Universities and Inhabitant Representatives. Participation and Empowerment related actions have moved from the margins into the mainstream. Since the community involvement is seen as a way to ensure greater and sustainable outcomes from Area based Interventions, the need to guarantee greater co-operation within and between different key institutional actors has become a taken for granted aspect of such interventions. The greater the distance between decision-making processes and the people they are meant to serve, the greater the risk that such developments will fail to achieve their objectives.

How was the participation process implemented (methods applied)?

The analysis of the process of "participation" in Suleymaniye case can be defined as consisting of a clear axis of a non-dialective actors of managers and audits. The main process was actually settled on a network of technical bodies and authorities at local and national level who is in charge of monitoring and controlling the interval steps in order to pretend it from the timing failures throught the process. However, a network of authorities and audits is potentially and by definiton have been missing to create resolutions model to mobilize the inhabitants in order to design an opportunist idea of involving the inhabitants to generate not only an economical but also social rehabilitation outcomes. As a source of problem on this paralel is some specific survey questions that posed to the renters by the local administration. in order to analyse a specific step of the process, a question for the renter surveyors is below:

       Do you want to own a property in the area?......................Yes/No
       Do you want to continue to live in the area as renter?..........Yes/No

The concern of "participation" is implied in the survey as the idea of mapping the demand on willing to have a property in the area or willing to live in the area after the regeneration process. No questions were posed to the surveyors in order to map the economical and social destruction of the process to design a set of specific policy interventions for the survivor inhabitants.

In how far does/did the project respond to people's needs?

According to President of UNESCO World Heritage Center Europe and North America chair; Catherine Rossler, the unique aim is not protecting the physical site that presents a very rich cultural and historical context, the purpose should also be "integration". "The point is to provide a social and economical integration together with the physical interventions". As in Istanbul, in many developping countries metropols, such issues related to inhabitant rights, are totally connected with being a legal owner of a property or not in a particular urban regeneration district. This is another way to kick the renters out of an upgrading and value gaining territory. It can be easily understood that the alternatives named as "opportunities through urban regeneration" are far from market economy based approaches in the middle of Istanbul Metropolitan Area`s economical facts. By this reason a slow motion eviction threat is always keeping its existence for the renters. The renters in regeneration areas are aware of this fact. And they also know what will make them break away from their neighborhoods, will also change their way of living which is originally structured on strong social capitals and economic networks built in the district through the years. Even if you choose the option of transferring low income inhabitants to the "social houses" which is at 30-40 km far away of the city by long run and cheap mortgage proposals; the weaknesses of this proposal will be as; the new residential area is going to be very "foreigner" and "not a place of survival" for them; and this is an inevitable result of breaking those group of people away from their social networks, cultural practices, and socio-spatial integrations.

Analysis of program/function

  • What are the main functional characteristics?
  • How have they been expressed or incorporated?

Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Analysis of design/planning process

  • How was the area/project/plan formulated and implemented?
  • Were there any important consultations/collaborations?

Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Analysis of use/users

  • How is the area/project/plan used and by whom?
  • Is the use changing? Are there any issues?

Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Future development directions

  • How is the area/project/plan evolving?
  • Are there any future goals?

Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Peer reviews or critique

  • Has the area/ project/plan been reviewed by academic or professional reviewers?
  • What were their main evaluations?

Pleas add references, quotes...

Points of success and limitations

  • What do you see as the main points of success and limitations of the area/project/plan?

Illustration: Summary table

What can be generalized from this case study?

  • Are there any important theoretical insights?

Short statement plus background notes

Which research questions does it generate?

Short statement plus background notes

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