LEARNING FROM ISTANBUL
The Use and Appropriation of Urban Space
Improvised and mobile: Each day, thousands of street vendors, shoe shiners and knife sharpeners swarm through the streets of Istanbul and then disappear again. Urban niches are filled and threshold spaces occupied. The provisional structures set up on Istanbul’s streets allow the goods and services required by its inhabitants to be supplied and new livelihoods to be established. Performative practices largely shape the face of the city.
The exhibition entitled “Learning from Istanbul – The Use and Appropriation of Urban Space” shows extracts from a comprehensive compendium that illustrates these exceptional structures in detail to substantiate their overall urban social and economic relevance. The absence of sprawling, state regulations and the Turkish concept of urban space appropriation allows inhabitants the freedom to develop their “mahalles” (districts) according to their own needs. Will these established structures withstand the international investment pressure and altered regulations in the event of EU entry? Could they represent a solution to the social and aesthetic erosion of central European urban spaces?
The “Companion”, “Filler”, “Slider”, “Sequencer”, and “Settler” categories of the exhibition answer these and other questions. The Do-It-Yourself city (or informal city/spontaneous city) should in future urban discourse not be considered and lived as an opposite but instead as a distinctive component of each metropolis.