The City of Van

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Landscape Planning as a Rural Development Instrument for The City of Van, Turkey, by Emel Baylan

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Rationale: Why is this case study interesting?

  • Please summarise:- e.g. Design Innovation? Planning Exemplar? Theoretical Insights? Lessons learned from its failure? [It doesn’t have to have been successful]
  • Think about it from the view of another educator/student in a different country. Why should I use this case study in my teaching/education?

"Landscape planning" is a less dealed and sometimes missing instrument in rural development activities, especially in developing regions/countries.In these areas, "development" demands and criterias are generally being tried to be met in short terms without considering many aspects of "sustainability".As a result, desired "development" is becoming more unfeasible, more challenging. Additionally, increasing demands and requirements of communities making this challenge more complex, nearly in most of the developing countries and regions. Therefore,landscape planning activities those may have both short term results and long term effects should be integrated in rural development activities.

In this context, according to the natural and cultural features of the area, main landscape planning activities which can contribute to the development of Van City will be determined,

This case study may contribute to the similar efforts in rural landscapes. Also, it may contribute the knowledge on "landscape planning-rural development" connection.

Author's perspective

  • What theoretical or professional perspective do you bring to the case study? Please answer from your personal perspective.

Landscape planning may contribute to the rural development activities;

  • by contributing to the development vision and strategy of the rural landscapes and
  • by improving the quality of life in rural areas.

Landscape and/or urban context

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

Van is a city in the eastern part of Turkey, near the border of Iran. It is located at an elevation of 1750 m. It covers an area of 4080 hectares. Van region features mountainous terrain with harsh winters.Steppe flora is common around the City. Additional to terrestial climate conditions, antropogenic effects, those ongoing for hunderd years, are the most important reasons of deforestration in Van.

The City lies on the eastern shore of Lake Van. Lake Van lies on the lowest part of Lake Van Basin,bordered by high mountains to the south, by plateaus and mountains to the east, and by a complex of volcanic cones to the west. Lake Van is the largest body of water in Turkey and the second largest in the Middle East. Brackish waters of Lake, are unsuitable for either drinking or irrigation.

City takes its name from Lake Van.“Van” is the name of the capital of the Urartian Kingdom that flourished on the Lake's eastern shore between the 10th and 8th centuries BC.

Van was the ancient Urartian capital of Tuspa, the capital of the powerful Urartu kingdom between the 10th and 8th centuries BC. In succeeding years, Van was under the control of the Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks and Ottomans. Old Van was completely destroyed by the end of World War I (1914-1918) after being occupied by Russian forces.The surrounding area is full of remains from Urantians to Ottomans.

Van Geo Location.jpg


Map; sketches; short descriptive analyses

Cultural/social/political context

  • Brief explanation of culture, political economy, legal framework
    • After foundation of Turkish Republic, there is a rapid population increase in Van. The main reason is migration from south provinces to the City.
    • Migration from Van to west of Turkey is also in a high level.
    • Today, population of Van is 285.000. %60 of the population is living in rural parts of the City and %40 is in the city center.
    • Agriculture, especially stock-breeding, is the dominant economic activity in Van.


    • Van was the ancient Urartian capital of Tuspa,the capital of the powerful Urartu kingdom between the 10th and 8th centuries BC.
    • In succeeding years, Van was under the control of the Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks and Ottomans.Past.jpg
    • Old Van was completely destroyed by the end of World War I (1914-1918) after being occupied by Russian forces.
    • The surrounding area is full of remains from Urantians to Ottomans. Today.jpg
    • After the foundation of Turkish Republic, City has been rebuilt. But this time, on the beyond of the castle.

Spatial analysis of area/project/plan

  • What are the main structural features?

Main features shaping the area

    • Climate
    • Van Lake
    • Topography
    • Transportation/Connections to other rural areas and urban centers
    • Unemployement
    • Traditions & Gender issues
    • Being on the border/transfrontier
    • Refugees
    • Migration into the City from surroundings
    • Population
  • How has it been shaped? Were there any critical decisions?

Critical issues shaping the Van city and its surrounding

    • Urartian, Persian, Byzantine, Arabic, Seljuk and Ottoman periods and their impacts to natural&cultural landscape
    • I.World War
    • Foundation of Turkish Republic
    • Cross-border and local safety issues

Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Analysis of program/function

  • What are the main functional characteristics?
    • Food production (as a result of agriculture)
    • Alternative tourism potentials
    • Transfrontier area & flow space of goods and humans between Iran and Turkey
    • Higher education opportunities for the region

  • 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?

User group

    • Citizens (local people&inhabitants who moved to the City from different parts of Turkey)
    • Students from different parts of Turkey
    • Foreign tourists
    • Refugees
  • Is the use changing? Are there any issues?


  • Land-use in and around the City of Van.


Illustration: Map/diagram/sketches photos and background notes

Cross-cutting questions

How may landscape architecture contribute to the integration of different user groups in the urban fringe?

  • Integration in an urban area
  • Quality of life in rur-urban areas
  • Flexibility of life styles
    • The participation process into the decision making about the development strategies of the City seems to be one of the opportunities for integration of different user groups such as farmers, women, unemployed people, environmentalists and etc...
      • In the participation process, agricultural cooperations, village service unions, environmental NGOs and similar organizations may be the voice of farmers and environmentalists who have more direct contact with natural landscape around the City.
    • Contribution to alternative tourism opportunities development, landscape architecture may play a key role in communication, contacting and experiencing with different users groups of in Van City and around its surroundings.
      • Also, recreational opportunities may contribute to the mental health of individuals, so of the community. Especially, green areas and open spaces can be the spaces of integration and refreshment of different user groups, in different ages in different genders from different origins and experiencing different problems.
    • In this way landscape planning and management process may give opportunities to introduce "flexibility" in traditional and strict life style in Van City.

How can the transformation process be connected with the landscape sub-typologies?

  • where does rural start?
  • Rur-urban
  • Dynamics flows between urban and peri-urban areas
  • Monitoring land-use change

No information!

How may landscape planning contribute to quality improvement?

  • Aesthetic quality
  • Environmental quality
  • Social quality

Landscape planning as a process dealing with spatial and social dimensions of an area, have to say and to achieve alot about the aesthetic, environment and social quality features. Especially in rural areas, at the beginning phase and during the implementation of development strategies and plans, landscape planning may contribute to decision making process by the tools such as EIA, ERA, stakeholder analysis, etc. and also by public participation. Such a process will contribute to the wise use of natural and cultural elements which are not highly exploited, yet. Also, by creating opportinuties for recreation which is very significant for mental and physical health of the individuals and the community in an underdeveloped area. Additional to these, economic aspects of recreation activity and also tourism potential of these areas may be important inputs for the development of the rural where the unemployement rate is very high.

Therefore, landscape plans which consider the economic, recreational, social and environmental needs of a rural community/ rural area may contribute to the aesthetic, social, environmental quality; so the overall quality of life in these areas.

Figure gives a brief content of this process.

Landscape planning quality improvement.jpg

Can the maintenance and development of agricultural land-use in urban fringes be a strategy of a greenbelt?

Agricultural areas in the near surrounding of the City might be the consider as a part of green infrastructe. If these areas are taken into account as an element of green network then, agriculture may also play an important role in the green infrastructure. At the same time, with various tools and strategies, agriculture can sustain and develop itself in this structure.

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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Please add literature, documentations and weblinks

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