Osman Ural | AboutBlank | Future of Istanbul

1. How is working in a complex city as Istanbul? (Considering the lack of green and urban set up)

Working in Istanbul is a significant advantage in terms of environment for architects. Its one of the only cities I know where you can live your entire life in, and still have places you have not quite been to or seen. Since Istanbul is one of the only European cities which has not been significantly bombed by world wars, most of its urban context has stayed intact. And be damned what a rich and vibrant urban context it is. From its Ancient Greek and Roman beginnings to the rising towers that scrape the sky today, its like living in a time capsule or a library of architecture and urban design.

2. Ethic. What is your idea about third bridge and airport and last one won WAF award?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AK Party pride themselves on their policy of creating large and grand projects that they hope try to stimulate the economy and provide vision for future growth. A lot of people see this as their government taking action and providing needed services to their lives.

Though these things are positives, many people also see these projects as physical manifestations of ego that are hastily done without actually any foresight in terms of functional sustainability and use.

The third bridge does not get used very often due to its distance from the actually city, and is expensive for the typical Turk who commutes to work.

The bridge was also promised to be the solution to the obscene traffic problems Istanbul goes through day to day. In my opinion, it will be another 10-30 years before the third bridge actually becomes used in a meaningful way. I would much rather see the money be used to solve the actual traffic in the city. Using a smart city system that implements cameras which would work with traffic police to prevent things that clog traffic, such as double parking and managing merging on major roads. Systems such as these would be more cost effective, but it is not as sexy as a new and modern bridge.

The third airport will be massive! As somebody who has traveled a lot in and out of Istanbul, the city definitely needs a new airport. Air travel is quite affordable in Turkey, so many people use airplanes domestically. Internationally is a little bit different, as Istanbul has become more of a connection hub than a destination since the privatization of Turkish Airlines. Most international traffic are connection flights between the East and the West. So, a third airport seems necessary in order to handle this traffic. Places like New York / Chicago / London all have multiple airports due to their status as connection hubs, so it only seems natural that Istanbul does the same.

Probably the biggest issue about the new airport is its position. The ecological impact of the construction is not good for the city, and I am sure they could have found a different place to put it. Many trees were cut and ecosystems erased due to the sheer massiveness of the project site. But, unfortunately, the government is always intent on its mission to spark growth in development, and their eyes are on future projects between the new airport and the new bridge.

3. Are Turks ready for share economy and your idea to stop the crazy rent market

I think Turks will be ready for a share economy soon. Istanbul has gone through some drastic changes the past 10-15 years, and it is in constant fluctuation and development. What has not changed is its function for society here in this country. Istanbul is always seen as a place where you go to make money, follow your career path, and retire somewhere else outside the beautiful chaos that is Istanbul. But this outlook is going though a transition as a large influx of young adults born during the late 90’s and early 2000’s leave school and enter the economy. This new generation of the internet will be the ones to force economic change as they go after alternatives to the current work environment here. Like New York or London, Istanbul real estate values are based on location to trendy locations and / or commercial zones. So rents can be quite expensive, and as the new generation enters this harsh reality, they will be the ones to look for alternatives or solutions to this issue. Turks are generally very active on social media, and as long as the internet can stay relatively free, it seems only natural that different forms of value exchange begin to appear in Istanbul.

I do not see the crazy rent market improving anytime soon. Unless you are willing to live on the outskirts of Istanbul, it will always be expensive to live in the heart of the city. 17 million people live in this city, and, as long there is demand, rent will always stay high inside the city. The only place where it will drop will most likely be the large urban regeneration projects on the periphery of the city. There is currently an over abundance of apartments in these areas, and you can snag a place for reasonable prices. But the commute to work from these areas are both time consuming and physically demanding.

4. Future of Istanbul. How u see the future of Istanbul in a scenario with google cars and more further robotics?

Right now the future of Istanbul looks uncertain. Current trends of growth and development have brought the city to new heights of congestion and density. It chaotic nature does not seem compatible with a future that implements google cars just due to the fact that its a very hilly city, and constantly demands high awareness – there is no room in Istanbul for autopilot mode. As for long distance journeys, such as driving from Istanbul to İzmir or Bursa or Ankara, self-driving cars seem more practical. Also there is a pricing issue for cars in Turkey. Automobiles are heavily taxed here, so is the fuel that we put into them. More alternatives to mass transport are more in tune with the needs of the people here. The question of robotics and automation in our daily life seems more like a global issue. This will probably be the greatest challenge of the global economy in general, as careers start to become obsolete, what do we do with the free time we have won and how do we use it properly.

I had chance to work with Osman Ural in a great think-tank architectural office called AboutBlank in Istanbul. If I have to choose a check point in my life, sure AboutBlank internship and thesis in YTU where fundamental. From there I had great experience, knowledge, collaboration and contacts.

Thanks guys!



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