Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Terminal Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Department

Planning and Landscape Architecture

Advisor

Victoria T. Chanse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Clifford D. Ellis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Doris Gstach, Ph.D.

Abstract

A dramatic proportion of the world population — as many as one out of every six people — currently lives in an illegally built home or neighborhood, an informal settlement. While many of the cultural, economic, sociological, political, and ethical implications of informal settlements have been widely published, academicians and governments are far from arriving at a final conclusion. Further complexity comes from the variations in the characteristics of informal settlements from one society to another and from one location to another. As writers have tried to emphasize different manifestations of informal settlements or certain aspects of the phenomenon, a confusing jargon has emerged within the English speaking counties and other nations. This study will focus on the gecekondu, the informal settlements in Istanbul, Turkey as the gecekondu are part of the worldwide problem of in-formal development and share some similarities in their origin and their effect on the urban fabric and social life of cities.

Gecekondu development, fueled by the migration from rural to urban areas made a profound impact on the landscape of Istanbul, Ankara, and other major cities. Despite a popular notion of squatter settlements, these areas in Turkeyʼs main cities today have many desirable com-ponents, but continue to present a significant problem at the same time, as they are often physically, and thereby culturally, isolated from the “whole” of the city. This isolation, while not necessarily a dangerous situation, is nonetheless detrimental to the socialization of their inhabitants to the city culture and prevents much of the interaction and cultural dialogue that is necessary for the progression of society.

This study attempts to address the problems caused by informal developments and proposes a model for landscape design as a forum to facilitate interaction between socially isolated urban areas and applies this concept in reclaiming and designing public space in a specific site in Istanbul. The site design provides a physical link: safe, accessible, and public, with ame-nities throughout: schools, community gardens, periodic markets, parks and playgrounds, bikeways and pathways, fitness and recreation areas, to provide interaction opportunities and dialog between isolated cultures.

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