westward expansion

As Ankara’s population continues to explode, its city structure is shifting. Hemmed in on the north, south and east edges by mountains, the city has reached capacity in these directions, leaving one path for growth: along the western corridor of the valley in which the city sits.

Not only bring change to the commercial centers of Ankara, the lopsided growth has also shifted the main axis in the city. Originally a single north-south thoroughfare guided development. By the new master plan in the 1960s, 2 crossing axes made the city’s transit structure. By now, the east-west axis has grown to dominate, and the heaviest traffic volumes run along this route, with those who are able moving west as quickly as possible. Ataturk Bulvari (N-S) is certainly still important, and contains the monumental governmental center, but its rival, Eskisehir Bulvari (E-W) and up and coming Istanbul Caddesi (E-W)  pull Ankara’s center of gravity further and further west, consequently pushing the original centers (both old and new) to the edge.

the road west.

Unfortunately for the most part the new areas of Ankara that I observed are built speculatively, with little thought for their role in the urban environment. If anyone knows of any projects working to integrate, or areas where something more interesting is happening, please let me know!


traffic & movement

The plan of Ankara relies heavily on traffic and movement for its legibility. And now, as almost all of the original architecture of the 1930s and 40s (with the exception of the monumental administrative sites) has been destroyed, the streets and their relationship to the surrounding buildings are the clearest point at which the changes in the plan can be seen.

In many ways, the main thoroughfares of Ankara have become divisive edges, catering to long-range vehicle movement. Atatürk Bulvari, the main north-south road, originally was a boulevard. Today, the central green space has been used to create numerous underpasses, so that the road is not only difficult to cross, but has only small points at which it connects to anything in the immediate proximity.

A policy of overbridges for pedestrians and trains, long pursued by Ankara’s mayor, further segregates the street terrain.

The divisions also play out between the old and new city centers along Atatürk’s transit corridor: a flyover U-turn redirects traffic from the south back toward the new center once it reaches the edge of the old city, Ulus.

But there was an interesting phenomenon present (almost) along many of these main roads, in both the old parts of the city and the new.

Roads running parallel to Atatürk and other mains have picked up the majority of the pedestrian traffic flow. The focus for security and for movement is on the main roads, so the side streets behind them have acted as support streets, perhaps because of the combination of their proximity to fast transit and their smaller scale, the streets attract mostly smaller scale commercial spaces, which fill the sidewalks, crowd out the cars and open the streets to pedestrians on foot.

It happens in the old city and the new, and these commercial, market streets hold the majority of walkers, sometimes blocking traffic from cross streets with the strategic placement of a kiosk.

In new areas, the parallel supports are connected by footbridges, but most people prefer to risk the street traffic.

ankara’s adjustments: mixing construction systems

Ankara’s new city of 1928 had to be planned around its existing settlement, located at the top of a hill in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains. Much of the old city sat inside the walls of an even older fort.

The basic concept of the Ankara plan was to create a new boulevard that started at the edge of this old city and ran south, to a new administrative center in the plain.

The new center brought new ideas, new methods of construction, new ways of living. Concrete frame systems, now ubiquitous, established a modern means of construction and a new, bigger scale of building.

Despite these efforts in recreating the urban landscape of Ankara by isolating the old, the original arrangements of Ankara have crept out into the plains, albeit in small, but critical ways.

Inside the fort wall, buildings remain the same, and renovations are only historic. Outside, as the hill slopes down, the old and the new begin to mix. This photo is taken near the edge of Ulus, the old district, where a pedestrian market opens into the ring road around the core city.

But the edge can also be extreme. Here, along Ataturk Bulvari, the main axis of Ankara, pre-1940s building is decisively cut by a large boulevard and an open park that follow the southwest edge of the hill and buffer it from the main railway.

The old houses were built of wood…their basic structure was a stone foundation, with wood frame sections above, cantilevered slightly at each increasing level. The walls were filled with brick. On top of this, a beam or truss system, depending on the span, supported a ceramic tile roof.

In new concrete areas, buildings were designed with flat roofs. However, because of rain and snow, many of these roofs were replaced with traditional roofs, which leaked less. Now, the traditional roofs are integrated into the construction process from the start.

across sinai

i have arrived in palestine…after a wonderful but rather cold three weeks in turkey i made the journey down to a heated cairo and then took a bus through the sinai peninsula to take a short walk into israel. after crossing the border at the northern tip of the red sea  i took a bus through the negev desert to jerusalem, where sahar met me and we came to ramallah in palestine.

I am spending a day more here before I move on to Tel Aviv, but will be (hopefully) wrapping up some Turkey updates and getting them online before I go!

anatolian ankara

Map used with permission of Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediye Başkanliği, Atatürk Library, Istanbul.

Ankara, the reason behind my trip to Turkey, was planned in the 1920s as a new capital for the young Turkish Republic, led by Atatürk. Looking for a fresh start and a marked difference from the previous empires that had reigned in the region, Ataturk moved the capital away from Istanbul to then-obscure Ankara in central Anatolia.

Map source: AD article “The Making of An Early Republican Ankara,” Turkey At the Threshold, AD (Jan/Feb 2010).

Unlike Chandigarh, Ankara existed before it was planned as a capital, so planners had to deal with a historic core as they developed the city. Another major factor in the planning was the topography. Ankara sits alongside a mountain; its old history surrounds a mountaintop fort. Ankara’s master plans and early republican architecture were heavily influenced by Germany, as it was vying to reposition itself after World War 1.

Hermann Jansen’s plan, adopted in 1928 and based on the earlier plan by German planner Carl Lörcher, severs the old from the new by cutting a main boulevard (Atatürk) between the old (Ulus) and the new center (Kizilay). The plan for the new administration was then structured around the new center, Kizilay.

Map used with permission of Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediye Başkanliği, Atatürk Library, Istanbul.

Since the plan, Ankara has grown from just tens of thousands to its current population of 4.5 million. Because I will only be in Ankara for a short time, I will be looking at strategic locations in the plan: (1) the edge between the historic core, Ulus, and the planned areas, (2) the main street, Atatürk Boulevard, cutting through the city, (3) the commercial and administrative center Kizilay, and (4) the edges of the plan, where development begins to move to accommodate population increases.

As always, if anyone has any tips or leads I’d love to hear them.

istanbul’s market systems

This is not quite within the lines of my project, but I thought that the system for construction of Istanbul’s main markets, the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar, was a beautiful example of a simple system used to hold a changing and complex landscape, program and scale of space.

The Spice Market, contained within a neat cross in plan, applies the vaulted structure regularly, with a main barrel vault over the central walkway flanked by individual dome vaults lined up to house each of the shops. The messier Grand Bazaar, with a series of different areas connected by bends, curves and alterations in the vault structure, creates moments of surprise, where one arch divides into two, an abrupt turn requires a quarter of a dome, or large spans rest on columns of varied scale.