Wednesday, January 24, 2007


42ND ISoCaRP Congress


Istanbul, 14-18 September, 2006, Istanbul. 


The 2006 ISoCaRP Congress will explore the contemporary challenges and emerging opportunities that cities are facing vis-à-vis influential forces that can be summarised as integrative and disintegrative. This year’s framework builds on themes examined in previous ISoCaRP congresses, such as globalisation and its influence on planning (2003), the management of the city region (2004) and the spaces produced by and required for the “creative economy” (2005). By integrative forces we refer to, inter alia, strategies formulated by urban stakeholders to position their cities in the global arena, including institutional actions undertaken via growth-friendly policy and market initiatives realised through mega projects. These set of efforts aiming for urban competitiveness have nevertheless revealed the other side of the coin –how cities have become exposed to tides of disintegrative forces, which, scholars assert, has caused urban systems to be drawn to spatial, cultural, social and economic fragmentation.
The interplay of this framework, at remarkable magnitudes of scale and speed, has perhaps uncovered a gap between the planner and the doer. Is planning a hurdle for economic growth based on real estate industries? Is rapid urban development just non-sustainable land speculation? Observers of the current status of our cities might conclude that there could be some truth in both questions. It is a fact that construction and property industries are pillars to the world economy and is also undeniable that cities in both the developed and developing world are exposed to escalating pressures, as we have witnessed in the social unrest occurred in December of 2005 in the heart of Europe.

Hulagu KAPLAN & Mehmet TUNCER

Assoc. Prof. Dr., Urban Planner (MsC), PhD in City and Regional Planning

Assoc. Prof. Dr., Urban & Regional Planner (MsC), Public Administration and Political Science (PhD)


Issues related to ecologically oriented urban development and management are an increasing concern in urban planning. Urban ecology implies that environmental problems be solved within the built environment to a degree where the products and energy systems of built environmental processes are passed on to the larger environment as benefits, not as hazards to nature. When working within the concept of urban ecology the responsibility of planners and designers is to work as ecologically sensible as possible within the given economical, social and cultural conditions.
Ecological conditions in Turkish cities are worsening and require better protection of the environmental ingredients. This requirement implies a coordinated approach dealing with all urban activities and their socio-economical and ecological consequences in an urban context. Local governments, with their planning powers have the opportunity to coordinate the planning and development efforts towards ecologically sound urban restructuring through urban regeneration projects.
Urban regeneration projects are fairly a new urban developmental tool in the hands of Turkish local governments. Ankara Greater Municipality is one of such local governments with several regeneration projects. Changing cities towards sustainability, in a more ecological direction requires more than focusing on rehabilitation and/or redevelopment. To this end, integrating ecological elements in urban regeneration projects should be considered as a vital component of these projects. Hence, a successful regeneration process based on ecological principles would therefore involve both new forms of technology such as eco-tech, new forms of public regulation as well as new forms of organizing urban management to bring together all stakeholders, from local government to non-governmental organizations. Meanwhile, urban regeneration projects are primarily seen by the majority of local governments as tools of economic development, to the extent to ‘redevelop’ or ‘gentrify’ a given urban land.
In Ankara, Dikmen Valley Residential and Environmental Development Project and Portakal Cicegi Valley Urban Regeneration Project are the first pioneering two projects of this kind. In this paper the socio-economic and ecological impacts of these projects are evaluated by a two-tiered evaluation method and some recommendations are derived for urban planners and local governments, to use in the preparation of sustainability oriented urban strategies.
Due to its settled areas’ geomorphologic and topographical conditions, Ankara can now be considered as a city overflowing its natural, hence ecological, thresholds. In other words, the growth of Ankara resembles growth of a lowland or flatland city despite of its geomorphologic and topographical thresholds. The valleys are ecological thresholds to be conserved as mostly green areas due to climatologically and urban quality benefits they bring to a city living in terms of ‘healthy city’. In fact, the aforementioned city ‘bowl’ geomorphologic ally has numerous valleys, some with creeks directly joining to Ankara River. From the point of ecological sustainability, these valleys should be preserved and handled as green wedges, adjoining to the green belt and bringing the ‘nature’ into the densely populated inner city areas. However, the recent urban development in Ankara do not consider this point of view as a major development policy, and so called ‘regeneration projects’ are formulated and planned against the City’s ecological potentials.


II.1. Definitions of “Sustainable Urban Development”

We live in a time in which increased population growth, high levels of consumption and the desire to feed growing economies have created escalating demands on our resources – natural, human and social – on a local, regional and global scale.
These demands negatively impact the natural environment, our communities and the quality of our lives. In the fact of these challenges, people worldwide have developed a growing concern for the environment and a desire to live in sustainable cities.
The most widely known definition of sustainable development comes from the Brundtland Commission, which defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (
During the preparatory meetings for the URBAN 21 Conference (Berlin, July 2000) the following definition was developed to define sustainable urban development:
"Improving the quality of life in a city, including ecological, cultural, political, institutional, social and economic components without leaving a burden on the future generations. A burden which is the result of a reduced natural capital and an excessive local debt. Our aim is that the flow principle that is based on equilibrium of material and energy and also financial input/output plays a crucial role in all future decisions upon the development of urban areas." (
"A sustainable community is one in which improvement in the quality of human life is achieved in harmony with improving and maintaining the health of ecological systems; and where a healthy economy's industrial base supports the quality of both human and ecological systems."(Indigo development:
"A community that believes today's growth must not be achieved at tomorrow's expense." (Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida, Initial Report, October 1995)
II.2. Green Area Ratios:

Parks, green lands, open areas and playgrounds play an important role for the city environment. Green spaces symbolize peace, minimal stress and a cleaner environment for many people. Percentage of parks, green spaces, open areas and playgrounds in a built-up area are important in “Sustainability” and “livability”. Green spaces in urban areas are important for recreational purposes and for generally enhancing the quality of life of people who live in urban areas.

One of the main advantages of the “Rehabilitation of Valleys and Other Natural Assets” is to upgrade the “Green Area Ratio” of the urban areas. Green area ratio is 11 m2 / person in cities, according to the Law of Development and Resettlement (3194) (Imar Kanunu) in Turkey. This is not sufficient for the “Green cities”, especially in the North and South –west of Turkey, many cities and towns have green areas (forests, natural woods etc) which are more than this ratio. But, there is less than that ratio, in the central part (Konya, Ankara also) and east – South-eastern part of Turkey (Urfa, Mardin, Diyarbakır, Elazıg, Erzurum etc) in many cities and towns. The tool of rehabilitation and restoration of valleys and ecologically sensitive areas such as lakes, rivers, fertile agricultural lands, could be use as a tool of upgrading the green area ratios in those cities and towns which lacks of greenery.

Ii.3. Green Fragmentation:

One of the most fundamental principles of conservation is that there should be a system of natural (or ‘green’) corridors across the landscape, interspersed with large core natural areas (i.e. ecological ‘nodes’).
These green core and corridor areas provide an important home for natural habitats. In turn, natural core and corridor habitats are essential to the long-term survival and sustainability of biological diversity and are critical in helping to maintain the healthy, natural functions of ecosystems. Regardless of whether one considers a network of protected areas within an area with commercial logging, or the maintenance of healthy ecosystems in an urban or agricultural area, nature needs a system of ecological corridors and natural core habitats.
While the concept of cores and corridors is central to conservation and landscape ecology, it is a less well-known principle among the general public. Frequently, there is confusion about what exactly wildlife corridors are, how large they should be to benefit wildlife and to support biodiversity, and where they should be protected and restored. Similarly, the importance
Of core natural areas and how they fit within a system of corridors is not well defined, although an increasing amount of attention is now being paid to this topic by ecologists, naturalists, planners and the public. (
The rehabilitation and restoration of green areas, water basins and valleys has much importance in regaining the ecological balance and ecologic routes for the urbanized areas. Rehabilitation of flora, rehabilitation of fauna life and planning for sustainable open and green spaces is essential for human being as well. It is important not to “fragment” the green axes, green belts, valleys while planning. Dikmen Valley like areas is vital life areas for the future generations. The continuation of green areas, forests, water basins, valleys has also much importance fort he agriculture and forestry.

Ii.4. City Lungs:

“Frederick Olmsted, the man who built New York’s Central Park, called it “the lungs of the city. It helps keep the air pure, keeps us healthy. Trees do all kinds of positive things in the city. He points to national studies that show urban trees helping reduce soil erosion, water and noise pollution, and even correlating trees with a reduction in crime. “We need to care for them the same way we do city streets and buildings”
Forests, Valleys and green areas in a city function as the city's lungs. They can also serve as centers of research, education, recreation, plant and animal preserving.
The forests, green areas, axes, water basins, valleys are “LUNGS of the CITY”. This means most all of our vital oxygen, fresh air, and fresh water comes from those areas. The main advantage of rehabilitation and restoration of those areas is to have a “Livable City” or we can say “Sustainable City”.


III.1. An Interpretation of Ankara Plans With Their Ecological Principles.

After the declaration of Ankara as the capital of the Republic of Turkey, a planning competition was held in 1927. Herman Jansen’s proposal was awarded the first prize, and the plan, prepared by him was put into implementation in 1932. This 2000 Ha. 300 000 design year population plan, emphasized in the formation and conservation of green areas, such as parks and other recreation areas in and around the planned Ankara. Jansen’s plan, in this manner preserved the valleys as green areas with all their morphological properties. (Plan 1)

The next plan, approved in 1957, was prepared by Nihat Yucel and Rasit Uybadin, following their winning of the first prize in the competition held in 1954. Their plan covers approximately 5720 hectares for 750 000 design year population. In the jury report of the competition it was stressed that their proposal emphasize the conservation of present, and development of new green areas to separate building zones from another is one of the superiorities of the proposal. (Plan 2)

Source: Tuncer, Mehmet, Private Archive

This plan followed the Jansen’s look at the valleys.
‘’1990 Ankara Metropolitan Area Master Plan’’, so called, was prepared by the Ankara Metropolitan Area Master Plan Office, established in 1969 by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing for 14 440 hectares and for 3.6 million population, in 1982. The valleys within the plan boundaries were not opened into building development, and were totally protected as green areas. This Metropolitan Area Master Plan was targeted to develop new Ankara towards to the west corridor towards to Istanbul highway and preserved the main agricultural lands on the Eskisehir Road. (Plan 3)
‘’2015 Ankara Master Plan’ is the fourth plan in this manner. Its macro form proposal largely accepted and adjusted the principles and policies of the 1990 plan, however due to changing socio-economic circumstances and becoming more aware of the city’s environmental problems, primarily its air quality, and the plan urged an accelerated decentralisation.The macro form proposals included in widening of the green belt and preservation of the valleys as green spaces.
‘’2025 Ankara Urban Area Master Plan’’, prepared by the Ankara Greater Municipality in 1992 ,largely follows the planning principles and policies, proposed by the 2015 plan, and ties them to such prime principles as ‘conservation-use balance ‘ and ‘sustainability’However,both,2015 and 2025 plans were not approved, hence, aforementioned environmental quality and ecology related policies are’ left’ in these plan-making efforts, whereas planning practice by the Ankara Greater Municipality obscured and skewed the plans’ such principles and policies by it’s implemented development plans, such as plans related to Dikmen Valley and Portakal Cicegi Valley. The last mentioned planning and urban design works, followed these plans are examples of how ‘regeneration projects’ can become largely a kind of gentrification projects refuting urban ecology and disclaiming citizen rights for accessible public space provision and living in a healthy city. Figure 1, below, attempts to a topological interpretation of Ankara plans, to date. (Plan 4)


Plan 1: Hermann Jansen’s Ankara Plan Plan 2: Ankara Metropolitan Area Master (1932)Source: Tuncer, M. (2000) Plan (1982) (target year: 1990)

Plan 3: N.Yucel & R. Uybadin’s Ankara Master Plan Plan 4: Ankara Metropolitan Area Master Plan (1957) Source: Tuncer, M. (target year: 2025)

III.2.Regeneration Projects vs. Urban Ecology.
Dikmen Valley is a South-North flowing valley, geographically adjoining Mogan-Eymir--Incesu water basin at its South, to the city centre at its North. It’s natural flow to the city centre as a potential green wedge is largely cut by government buildings at it’s northern section and this part is completely separated from the rest of the valley by the construction of Cetin Emec Boulevard on fill, in early 90’s.This boulevard is constructed on a landfill, intersecting the valley east-west, hence completely separating the city centre bound section from the rest of the valley. Although the Dikmen Valley regeneration Project, literally ‘’Dikmen Valley Housing and Environmental Improvement Project” has a continuous open space as it’s green spine, called ’’Culture Park’’. This open space is designed as a city park with a large proportion of ‘hard landscape’ and impacted by blocks of buildings, surrounding it. The two tower blocks, each 30 storey height, linked to each other by a bridge situated over the valley basin ,runs nearly parallel to the mentioned boulevard ,hence the valley is distrupted on it’s another cross-section by this bridge called ’’Culture Bridge’’. Just to mention, the total height of the tower+bridge from the valley base is approximately 120 meters. Therefore, there is a disproportionate relation between the valleys width and the bulk of this structure.


Figure 2: Dikmen Valley Housing and Environmental Improvement Project with Portakal Cicegi Valley Included (shown on the map as ‘’ Aziziye Park’’).

Table 1: Land Use of Dikmen Valley Regeneration Project


Residential 222,960 14.50
Culture park 1,029,050 66.93
Services 81,160 5.29
Education 34,620 2.25
Health 9,040 0.59
Roads 160,498 10.44
Total 1,537,528 100.00

Portakal Cicegi (Orange Blossom) Valley Urban Regeneration Project, literally ‘’Portakal Cicegi Valley Urban Development Project’’ is implemented on a respectively quite smaller valley (around 12 Ha.) The surrounding urban area had already developed residential area with medium-to-high rise buildings, before the Project implemented. This ‘regeneration project’ brought in an additional population with a 500 person/Ha. Density.

From a sustainable urban development point of view, then the Valley could have been retained as an urban park as it was proposed, prior to the so called ‘regeneration’ Project and could be valued as a green ‘island’ conventionally or could be assembled ‘’Dikmen Creek Green Area Project’’ approved in 1986, prior to the Dikmen Valley ‘regeneration’ Project. However, in 1991 Ankara Greater Municipality put this regeneration Project into action with a FAR (Building Ratio) =1.70, in this contained valley. According to this Project, 330 flats with150 to 200 sq meters, with the other buildings including a shopping centre, totals to 188,700 sq meters floor area on an 11.1 Ha. Project site.

Considered the previous plan’s FAR=0.05, to be used as green area supporting/recreational facilities, Ankara has lost one of its valuable open spaces situated in a densely built-up residential area.

The place of Dikmen and Portakal Cicegi Valleys in Ankara Urban Area are shown in the below Figure 3. In the figure, black areas denote parks, recreational areas and the green areas denote afforestation areas and the green belt area. The aforementioned two valleys are shown in the lower part of the figure as encircled.

^ ^
Dikmen Valley I I Portakal Cicegi Valley

Figure 3: The place of Dikmen and Portakal Cicegi Valleys in Ankara Urban Area (Black Areas: Parks, recreational areas, green areas: afforestation areas and the green belt area. The aforementioned valleys shown encircled.) (Source: Ankara Greater Municipality- Metropol Imar AŞ and Sahin, S., PhD Thesis, Ankara University)




a. Over Densely Construction And Artificial Elements: Planned over densely
populated and constructed as high apartment blocks detoriated and destructed ecologic structure of the famous Dikmen Valley. Existing flora and fauna system are destructed by this “Regeneration Project” convert the Valley to an “URBAN PARK” or we can say an “AMUSEMENT PARK”! (Photo 2)
Because all commercial activities (tents, buffets, restaurants, tea gardens etc), artificial pools, children playgrounds and densely use of the area changed the structure of Nature.
Some “Cultural Elements” and “Natural Elements” in landscape design are successfully implemented in the Park. (Project 1, 2) Some parts of the park are designed as “Nature Park”.


Design: Ates, Turgay, Private archive

Design: Ates, Turgay, Private archive

b. Destruction Of A Main Urban Green and Wind Corridor:

Dikmen Valley was an important element of Metropolitan Ankara’s urban wind circulation & green corridor (east, east-west) so it was also destructed by high rise, high density apartment
Blocks (18-20 flats) with both side of the Valley. As well as constructing two high rise blocks with a bridge named “CULTURE BRIDGE”! But it is not understandable this name, because
this two apartment tower & bridge structure do not contain any cultural activity!


c. Extensive Change Of Topography :
Especially in 2nd Phase of the implementation, changing the approach more radically towards to the more hard landscape from soft landscape, and also constructed a huge “Amphi Theatre” service as water flood barrier. High rise apartment basements on two sides of the Valley also main destructive factor of the topography.

d. Destruction Of Water Resources, Creeks And Aquifers:
Underground and over ground water resources are also destructed and changed to the artificial water ponds, a huge pool and small imitation creek, resembles of old Dikmen Creek.


e. Unjust Rents And Earnings: Unjust
Rights: The owners of the “gecekondus” (squatters) owning their building, unplanned and against laws of Construction and Resettlement (3194), Municipality Law etc. Those buildings are
against to the Laws, so it has to be punished for this reason, but they won like a “Prize” and released as owner of “RIGHT” They are given flats in exchange of their gecekondus.

f. The Enormous Unjust Earnings Of Construction Firms:
One of the main results of the implementation of the Project is speculation of both sides of the Valley and results also enormous unjust earnings of the Construction Firms.

g. Social Change And Gentrification :
Before the Project implementation, the population living in and around the Dikmen valley is mainly low and middle-low class. But after huge investment of public and private, construction of artificial park and high rise apartment blocks, the social profile was dramatically changed to the high income class. This result showing that the Dikmen Valley Project was intentionally or unintentionally aimed to “GENTRIFICATION”, not integrating the area and its inhabitants, to the City and their citizens totally.


Ecological thresholds, and amongst them valleys should be seen as not disintegrating but integrating natural reserves of an urban area. However, so called ‘generation projects, recently took place in Ankara’s urban development, have plans and urban design projects towards disintegrating the city from their valleys. These projects pay little attention to ecological conditions of the city, to geomorphologic and topographical aspects of the valleys planned and designed, and in the end, do not consider ‘healthy city’ concept, properly. These all might bring real ecological burden onto the city and to its citizens.


Ankara Büyüksehir Belediyesi-Metropol Imar A S (1990) Dikmen Vadisi Konut ve Çevre Gelistirme Projesi Nazım Imar Planı Acıklama Raporu.
Ankara Büyüksehir Belediyesi-Metropol Imar A S (1991) Dikmen Vadisi Konut ve Cevre Gelistirme Projesi 1/1000 Uygulama Imar Planı Acıklama Raporu.
Ankara Büyüksehir Belediyesi-Metropol Imar A S (1992) Portakal Cicegi Vadisi Kentsel Gelisme Projesi 1/1000 Uygulama Imar Planı Açıklama Raporu.

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