28 March 2008

A Sustainable Istanbul

I think that what begun my thougths about this was a proposed transport plan for Istanbul and awareness of the proposal of 'New Istanbul'.

All the proposals on the table for Istanbul and the present development point toward a very unsustainable future for this city. While Istanbul is not alone as a city that is heading in the future assuming that all the conditions presently in place will remain the same, there are other cities that are least addressing concerns about becoming more sustainable.

I plan to write more on this topic. However, I would very much appreciate your comments.

26 March 2008

Spatial Technologies as a Tool for Developing Sustainable Urban Transport in Middle Income Economies

The following is a version of the paper that was to be presented at a recent conference. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and funding problems, I was not able to attend and had to withdraw the paper. Any comments are appreciated. This paper will be presented at the ICGIS2008 (http://icgis2008.fatih.edu.tr/?&language=EN) which will be held at Faith University ın Istanbul from 2-5 July 2008.

Spatial technologies as a tool for developing sustainable urban transport in middle income economies
Michael A. McAdams
Assistant Professor
Geography Department
34500 Büyükçekmece
İstanbul, Türkiye
e-mail: mcadams@fatih.edu.tr


Urban transport is one of the most important elements for the development of sustainable urban areas in middle income economies. In many of these countries, the amount of vehicles on highway facilities in their urban areas is often increasing at such a rapid that is overwhelming their capacity- resulting in such problems as increased air pollution, debilitating congestion and increased depletion of energy resources. Their public transport systems are also under stress due from the influx of low income populations from rural areas added to a significant portion of the population that continues to rely on public transport. Acerbating the problem is the accompanying urban sprawl of most cities in middle income economies. It is obvious that these economies cannot proceed in this manner, but need to investigate appropriate sustainable solutions while continuing to advance economically. Spatial technologies (Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, etc.) and spatial analysis tools are essential instruments for analyzing urban transport problems and the development of sustainable urban transport plans in these countries. The paper discusses the link between urban transport and sustainability of urban areas in middle income economies and demonstrates how spatial technologies can contribute to development of strategies/plans for sustainable urban transport.
Keywords: urban transport, sustainability, middle income economies, spatial technologies, geographic information systems, remote sensing

1. Introduction

I have lived in two cites in middle income economies, Istanbul (my present residence) and Monterrey, Mexico. Although these two cities are continents away, they both share many things in common related to urban transport. Both have severe congestion, vehicular related air pollution, uncontrolled land use development, uncoordinated public transportation with a significant portion provided by private carriers, limited urban rail systems, growing automobile ownership and inadequate funds for new highways and fixed rail transport system. The challenge for these cities and others like them in middle income economies is to arrive at hybrid solutions that may be divergent from traditional solutions such the construction of new rail lines and highways. The future of these cities must be directed toward reducing air pollution, becoming less dependent on fossil fuels, urban sprawl containment and restriction of automobile ownership similar to developed countries but geared toward the specific situations of middle income countries.

Urban transport has an essential role in the development of any urban area. There are many issues which are directly related to urban transport including land development, economic development, mobility, pollution, and energy. The manner in which urban transport is planned and managed in urbanized areas can be instrumental in its future welfare and stability. In countries in middle income economies (MIE), urban transport is often besieged by the many factors. (The author uses the definition of middle income economies as determined by the World Bank (1).) As disposable income is increasing in middle income countries, many individuals are choosing to buy private vehicles. Often, this is a reaction to inadequate public transport in many urban areas in these countries, which may provide mobility, but at a level that cannot compare with that of private vehicles. Most of these countries have been completely unable to adequately cope with increasing automobile ownership and are now facing severe congestion on their highway facilities often resulting in increased travel times and severe pollution problems. Also, in almost all of the MIE, urban population has been rapidly increasing due to the migration of the rural poor to urban areas. This population is generally not able to afford automobiles and is dependent on public transport for their mobility. In many cases, public transport systems have unable to efficiently handle these increases in transit ridership or use it effectively in solving some of their transport related problems. Further decreasing highway capacity is the growth of trucks in the traffic flow due to the absence of inadequate rail systems for intercity goods movement. Despite the seemingly dire transport situations in these countries, there are cities such as Mexico City which has developed an extensive rail system and has started a complementary Bus Rapid Transit system (2) (3) and Curitiba, Brazil (4) (5) that has an exemplary Bus Rapid Transit system and coordinated transit land use development. The latter examples could prove as models for other countries, but cannot be applied without being altered to local conditions.

Spatial technologies (ST) are essential in analyzing urban transport. ST includes GIS, Remote Sensing and GPS and a host of other related spatial related technologies. They are part of a developing area referred to as Geographic Information Science (GISci.) These technologies in combination with digital spatial data are now considered essential for the study of multiple transport problems at all scales (national, regional, and local.) Combined with travel demand modeling and other transportation analysis tools, spatial technologies represent the chief means of integrating spatial transport data. The field of GIS combined with transport is termed GIS-Transport (GIS-T) and is a sub-set of GIScience and transport. The utilization of ST to study transportation is crucial for these areas to adequately arrive at sustainable solutions for urban transport. To fully utilize these technologies requires a redirection of funds and policies similar to those that will be recommended later in this paper.

2. Urban Transport Problems and Sustainability in Middle Income Economies

Issues in urban transport are a widely diverse including such areas as facility maintenance, travel demand, urban freight movement, demand management and impact analysis. Ultimately, transport infrastructure provides the means for the transport for people and goods between different activity centers either internally or externally. Communication networks have the ability to eliminate some trips, provide traveler information and better coordinate both private and public transport. These areas of study are the same for all countries regardless of their status (lower, middle or high income economies.) There is a wide body of literature concerning each of the sub-categories of urban transport. The problems of urban transport sustainability have been determined to be a grave problem for major cities in MIE (6).

Sustainability of urban transport is a relatively new area, but draws from past experiences and literature (7). Sustainability of urban transport equates to the concept of a balanced transport system, the ability of transport systems to be coordinated with appropriate land use development, demand management strategies, and the impact of transport systems and their ability to adequately reduce vehicle emissions and energy consumption to arrive at stable level which will not bring about a global environmental and economic crisis. Sustainability is somewhat of an enigma to countries have been operating on economic, political and environmental philosophies which were geared toward the modern world and not the post-modern realities. There are no standard definitions for sustainability and applications will vary by country (8) (9). At this stage, sustainability may be more of a goal and may not be completely possible in reality. Nevertheless, it is evident, that the global community cannot keep following the same path as in previous centuries and sustainability is the only rational direction to follow regardless if the methods to arrive at such a future state are somewhat elusive.

The problems related to urban transport systems in MIE are the result of multiple factors. The primary factors in these countries are: 1) inadequate and/or poorly enforced and uncoordinated land use regulations suitable for the transport infrastructure; 2) increasing number of people in urban areas who own their own private vehicles; 3)inadequate capacity in existing highway infrastructure to adequately handle the increased traffic resulting from the increased amount of vehicles on them; 4) inadequate pollution control measures on private vehicles; 5)uncoordinated or non-existent freight movement policies with other modes (rail, shipping, air); and 6)increasing demand for public transport due to the influx of low income individuals migrating to urban areas. The combination of all these factors leads to an urban transport system that is unsustainable and inadequate for its present and future needs (10).

To make the transition to sustainable urban transport systems, there needs to be adequate urban and regional planning geared toward compact urban development coordinated with public transportation and regulatory methods applied such as congestion taxes. In other words, the strategies need to focus on both the supply and demand aspect of urban transport, while avoiding the acquisition of extensive debt. Supra-regional organizations such as the World Bank and the European Union must be sought out for consulting and limited financial assistance. The inability of inter- governmental and national governments to adequately deal with the transport problems of these urban areas could result in them continuing to be the shadows of major centers in high income economies and not rising to new heights as vibrant and strategic centers. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of the global economy and environment that these countries be assisted to be sustainable while continuing to achieve other goals such as raising their standards of living.

3. The Role of Spatial Technologies for Urban Transport Sustainability in Middle Income Economies

Essentially, spatial technologies are tools that enable greater spatial analysis. These are generally considered GIS, Remote Sensing, and GPS, but could also be any device that uses geographic data (i.e., vehicle navigation systems.) Spatial technologies (ST) acquire, store, manipulate and display geographic information. The geographic databases are either raster or vector indicating the objects' (polygon, lines, points in vector database) or a pixels' (in a raster GIS) spatial address or coordinates (i.e., x, y; latitude, longitude, UTM etc.) In the vector model, information about points, node, lines, and polygons is encoded and stored as a collection of x, y or z coordinates. A raster model is used to model continuous features and is comprised of a collection of grid cells rather those found in the cathode ray tube of a monitor or television screen. In a vector GIS, the objects are defined in the database, such that there is information stored about the surrounding objects to conduct complex spatial operations. This geographic characteristic contained in a GIS is referred to as topology. However, the structure of raster database could be important if one is interested in layering a remotely sensed image within a vector GIS. The overriding discipline for spatial technologies is Geographic Information Science, which concerns all aspects of spatial analysis of which ST are integral parts (11).

A particularly unique feature of ST is that they can store information about a collection of layers that can be linked together using coordinates and identifiers. This characteristic allows for complex operations and modeling. In a vector GIS, these layers can contain point, lines (i.e., networks) or polygons.
The development of spatial analysis tools can be set in the backdrop of mankind’s need to understand space and analyze it for the improvement of operating within the spatial realm. The map, whether it was on stone or paper was a major technological tool in making spatial relationships understandable. ST are fascinating and powerful tools, but still part of an overall continuum and are intrinsically linked with the Information Revolution. With the advent of the PC this changed the accessibility of GIS such that GIS has become the most widely used for spatial analysis by both the private and public sector for numerous tasks from emergency management, urban planning, store location, resource development, transportation planning, gas and water line planning and numerous other tasks. The Internet has allowed for unprecedented sharing of geographic data. These technologies in combination with digital spatial data are now considered essential for the study of multiple problems at all scales (national, regional, and local.) In the public sector, most agencies and local governments in developed and developing nations consider ST as an integral part of their organization. In many areas of the private sector, ST has become an important element in their operation. The private sector is relying heavily on the public sector for the standardization and creation of spatially related data. The accessibility of spatial data is increasing rapidly due to the developments in the technological sector. The public, while not aware of the exact nature of ST, are increasing relying on its ability to provide information. A good example is the popularity of Google Earth. There is an increasing public demand for accessible and reliable data from the public sector of which ST often plays a key role.

It is expected with the increasing affordability of technology and its diffusion into the global society that the demand for digital spatial data will increase. The potential of ST is presently just being realized by those in all segments of society. The transition from an analog to a digital world has mostly occurred in the developed world in all segments of society. Their problems now reside in areas of methods of delivery, integration, standardization, reliability, accuracy and The problem is that many public agencies in many countries (particularly developing countries) are having difficulties grasping that the era of analog data, protection of ‘sensitive data’ is useless with the entry of readily available satellite data.

ST are an integral part of urban transportation analysis. It is used in a variety of manners from facility maintenance, project management, public transport management and planning, traffic forecasting, impact analysis, traffic management/engineering and land use planning When GIS is applied to transportation it is referred to as GIS-T. However, GPS systems and Remote Sensing when applied to urban transportation should also be considered part of GIS-T. Those who are professionals in the urban transport planning must now expected to be an expert GIS user and transport analyst.

4. Recommendations for Sustainable Urban Transport in MIE
Transportation systems in the MIE can be viewed at various scales. In addition, the inspection of the role of all modes, not only highway transportation, is necessary. To achieve the long range and short-term goals for transport sustainability requires coordination and planning. GIS-T and ST must be regarded as integral to the achievements of these goal of establishing sustainable urban transport in MIE.

Steps that are recommended to achieve sustainable transportation systems for MIE are:
A. Establishment of coordinating bodies
This should include major bodies involved at both a national and regional level including representatives for the United Nations, European Union, the World Bank and other relevant organizations to study, recommend and monitor the progress of urban areas in pursuing sustainable urban transport systems. The financial assistance of international funding organizations should be directly linked to the progress made by MIE in achieving sustainable urban transport systems.
B. Development of comprehensive transport plan for sustainable urban transport
This would involve the accurate inventory of all the transport networks by mode. The establishment of a region-wide GIS is essential. In addition, travel demand modeling including goods movement should be accomplished. The result of this needs analysis would be a plan with a list of potential projects.
C. Establishment of a set of realistic projects that the implementing agencies are committed and schedule of projects
Crucial to making the transportation plan a reality is committed funding for the projects. This would involve the participating bodies programming and coordinating projects for the region
D. Implementation of projects
Once the projects have been determined, the implementing bodies have to decide which projects should be implemented.
E. Monitoring of projects
This is an on-going process. Planning for transportation is insufficient without the monitoring of the projects.

5. Recommendations for Integration of ST in Urban Sustainability in MIE
However, regardless of the robustness of ST and the ability of these technologies to assist in decision-making, it cannot be a viable tool in urban decision making before certain conditions are met.
Some of the conditions that are needed are:A. Standardization and transparency of geographic data.
One of the problems in the GIS community worldwide is interoperability-the exchange of data among different spatial technologies. However, these problems have eased in the last few years. The ability to access to data and the level of quality is commonly referred as transparency. Much urban GIS data in the MIC is not readily available for use in research and other analysis. By the creation of Internet portals, many parties could have access to urban spatial data
B. Development of Urban Transport GIS databases
This would involve using existing databases and the creation of new ones. This is a prerequisite for any GIS analysis. These databases should be configured so that they can be used for multiple purposes and exclusively strictly project oriented. At this time, it would appear that only a few cities in the MIE have fully developed GIS. There are some agencies and universities that have GIS databases, but the interchange of data between different levels of government appears to be fragmented or non-existentC. GIS and transportation education in higher education institutions.Before GIS can be an integral part of urban analysis, there has to a sufficient number of professionals that are qualified to be able to develop and maintain GIS systems. At present, very few university that offer GIS programs in the Middle income economies. There needs to be more universities and other institutions providing training for both professionals and technicians who are experts in ST. The education of urban transport planners who are versed in sustainable transport strategies and analysis tools are also required.
D. Regional and national ST coordinating associations and institutes
There are many organizations that could coordinate GIS activities. There are organizations in the Europe that are presently dealing with the use of spatial technologies such as the European Umbrella Organization for Geographic Information (EUROGI). It should be noted that none of the countries in Southeast Europe are included in this organization. There are others such as the Network of Associations of Local Authorities from South-East Europe (NALAS) which are dealing with common problems such as waste water management and other urban issues. \
E Adequate funding for hardware, software, infrastructure and GIS projects.There are also numerous organizations that are funding projects to aid urban areas. One of the most prominent is the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development who gives assistance in public infrastructure and other capital needs of cities. The European Union also is contributing substantial financial support for projects. It is not apparent if funds are being allocated for the infrastructure, data collection, and software, training and technical assistance for the use of ST in these projects by other organizations.

6. Conclusion
The countries in MIE are coping with common urban transport issues. Spatial technologies are essential in analyzing these complex issues and assisting decision making. There are multiple funding agencies including the World Bank, and the European Union that are involved in the previously mentioned urban issues. However, in a preliminary review of some of the funded projects, there was an absence of the mention of the utilization of ST. These are the most appropriate institutions for assisting the integration of GIS in appropriate projects and programs. Most essential is constant funding for qualified ST professionals, hardware and software and the related infrastructure.

In urban areas, ST is not a luxury or a frill but an essential element in urban analysis and management. For the MIE to be able to deal with urban transport problems, the use of GIS must go beyond a project-oriented tool to one which is integrated with the urban decision making process. This will not happen overnight as there has to serious efforts by regional, national and regional institutions to ensure that ST plays an integral part of every project and program.


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2. World Resources Center. Mexico City, Mexico ( February 2008), http://embarq.wri.org/en/ProjectCitiesDetail.aspx?id=1 (accessed March 3, 2008)

3. Cervero, R. (1998), The Transit Metropolis. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

4. Vassoler-Froelich, I. (2006). ‘’Catalyst for Change: The Role of City Organizations in the Process of Urban Reform.’’ Urbana, 8 (Autumn 2006).

5. Vassoler-Froelich, I. ( 2007), Urban Brazil: Visions, Afflictions and Governance Lessons. Cambria Press: Youngstown, New York.

6. Dimitriou, H. (2006). "Towards a generic sustainable urban transport strategy for middle-sized cities in Asia: Lessons from Ningbo, Kanpur and Solo ." Habitat International 30, no. 4 (December 2006): 1082-1099 .

7. Newman, P. and Kenworthy, J. (1999), Sustainability and Cities. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1999.

8. Jeon, C. Amekudz A. , Vanegas J. (2006), "Transportation System Sustainability Issues in High-, Middle-, and Low-Income Economies: Case Studies from Georgia (U.S.), South Korea, Colombia, and Ghana." Journal of Urban Planning and Development 132, no. 3 (September 2006).

9. Litman, T. (2006), "Well Measured: Developing Indicators for Comprehensive and Sustainable Transport Planning." Victoria Transport Policy Institute, B.C., Canada. February 4, 2008. http://www.vtpi.org/wellmeas.pdf (accessed March 2, 2008).

10. World Bank (2006), Cities on the Move. A World Bank urban transport strategy review. http://www.worldbank.org/transport/urbtrans/cities_on_the_move.pdf (accessed 8 March 2008).

11. Longley, P., Goodchild, M., Maquire, D. and Rhind, D. (2005), Geographic Information Systems and Science (second edition). Chichester, U.K.: Wiley.

13 March 2008

Chaotic Urban and Regional Planning

This title may be strange to some. The common definition of chaos is the lack of perceived order. Urban and regional planning could be defined as the rational decısion makng process leading to an improved future urban/regıonal state. Both of these are inadequate definitions, although they would be commonly accepted by those unfamiliar with the concept of chaos defıned by the scıentıfic community and the evolution of urban planning theory. Looking at the 'everyday' definitions given previously, there would appear to be no common ground to connect the two concepts.

Let’s examine some samples of the definitions of the chaos theory and urban and regional planning.

Chaos Theory

A name given to recent wide-ranging attempts to uncover the statistical
regularity hidden in processes that otherwise appear random, such as turbulence
in fluids, weather patterns, predator-prey cycles, the spread of disease, and
even the onset of war. Systems described as "chaotic" are extremely susceptible
to changes in initial conditions. As a result, small uncertainties in measurement are magnified over time, making chaotic systems predictable in principle but unpredictable in practice. (Public Broadcasting System, 2008)

What exactly is chaos? The name "chaos theory" comes from the fact
that the systems that the theory describes are apparently disordered, but
chaos theory is really about finding the underlying order in apparently
random data. (Rae, 2008)

The irregular, unpredictable behavior of deterministic, nonlinear
dynamical systems (Roderick V. Jension of Yale University) (Gleick,

Chaos theory has a well developed literature which has permeated almost all branches of study although its roots came from mathematics (Gleick, 1987). Accompanying and complementary areas of interests would be those such as agent based and cellular automata modeling, fractal analysis, neural networks, and artificial intelligence. Chaos theory does not discard all the past methods of analysis, but selects parts of them which are deemed appropriate until more compatible methods are developed. For example, chaos theory still uses portions of statistics and other mathematics (i.e., calculus). However, just as logical-positivism, linear modeling and Newtonian physics is an outcome of a philosophy connected with industrialization, modernism and Fordism, chaos theory is a product of post-modernism (Smith and Higgins 2003). As such, chaos theory represents a philosophical break from the ideas that dominated much of the 19th and 20th Century. While the proponents’ of chaos theory claim that it represents a scientific paradigm shift, the root may more have its basis in a social movement with science backing it up (Smith and Higgins 2003).

Urban and Regional Planning

Urban planning involves forecasting future population growth and planning
for possible changes. Planners consider: rate of growth, rates of natural
increases and migration, age profile of the forecasted population and housing
types, employment services required (City of Prince Albert (Saskatchewan,
Canada), 2007).

All planning can be considered as an attempt to restrict possible futures.
Usually this is not stated explicitly. However, 'futures scenarios' are explicit
rejections of other possible futures. They have become fashionable again, as
they were in the 1960's. Usually, a small number of alternative scenarios is
presented: they indicate the range of futures considered acceptable. In other
words, the range of acceptable future cities is made visible by the choice of
scenarios. 'Acceptable', that is, to the people who prepared the scenarios. That
is usually the city or regional government: sometimes, a private organization
funded by local elites.
(Treanor, 1998)

There are a variety of definitions for urban planning depending on the approach. The latter definiton is also a criticism of urban planning as defined by modernists. The modernist approach would be one of a linear rational process that would lead to an end state at a particular year. This approach has been highly criticized and cannot be seen as a viable definition in the Post-Modern era. However, the Post-Modern era definition/concept of urban and regional planning is significantly flawed representing a field that is in transition (Post Modernism and Urban Planning, 2008) .

Chaos theory examines the non-linear, but deterministic processes. The urban environment contains many non-linear processes, but they emanate from entities which are not random, but have purpose and characteristics. In light of some of my present and past research, I have been contemplating about how can Chaos and Complex Systems be integrated into the practice of urban and regional planning. The analysis of urban phenomena using chaotic analysis techniques such as fractal analysis and agent based modeling are numerous. However, there is a gap from theory to practice that is just beginning to be explored in urban planning theory literature. Michael Batty (Batty, 2005) (Batty, 1995) and Patsy Healey (Healey, 2006) seem to have started to close the gap between chaos theory and urban analysis and planning practice.

Nevertheless, I think that it is still a relevant to ask: How exactly do urban and regional planners put the findings of these analytical tools into decision-making? Chaotic planning has been around for a long time, but has never really identified it as such. Incremental planning, ‘muddling through’ and a host of other techniques may possibly be considered chaotic planning. This needs further study and better delineation.

I will be presenting a paper titled “The application of fractal analysis and spatial technologies for urban analysis” at the Second International Interdisciplinary Chaos Symposium on Chaos and Complex Systems to be held in Istanbul, Türkiye sponsored by Külture University ( http://fen-edebiyat.iku.edu.tr/ccs2008/ ). The papers from this conference (hopefully including mine) will be published in the Journal of Applied Functional Analysis (JAFA) as a special electronic issue. In this paper, I discuss some of implications of fractal analysis to the practice of urban and regional planning. A draft of this paper can be obtained by sending an e-mail to me at mcadams@fatih.edu.tr
Batty, M. (1995). Fractal cities: a geometry of form and function. London and San Diego: Academic Press.

Batty, M. (2005). Cities and complexity: understanding cities with cellular automata, agent-based models, and fractals. Boston: MIT Press.

City of Prince Albert ( Saskatchewan, Canada). (2007). Urban Growth and Urban Form Managing Urban Growth. Retrieved March 13, 2008, from City of Prince Albert: http://www.citypa.ca/TheCity/Departments/EconomicDevelopmentandPlanning/ThePrinceAlbertDevelopmentPlanProcess/tabid/347/Default.aspx
Gleick, J. (1987). Chaos: Making a New Science. London: Penguin Books.
Healey, P. (2006). Urban Complexity and Spa tail Analysis Strategies: Towards a Relational Planning for our Times. London: Routledge.

Post Modernism and Urban Planning. (2008). Retrieved March 13, 20088, from http://www3.sympatico.ca/david.macleod/POMO.HTM#POMO7
Public Broadcasting System. (2008). Glossary Definition: Chaos. Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Public Broadcasting System (USA): http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/physgloss/chaos-body.html
Rae, J. (2008). Chaos Theory: A Brief Introduction. Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Homepage of Gregory Rae: http://www.imho.com/grae/chaos/
Smith, W, and M Higgiins. (2003). *"Postmodernism and Popularisation: The Cultural Life of Chaos Theory." Culture and Organization 9, no. 2 (June 2003): 93-104.

Treanor, P. (1998). Limiting urban futures. Retrieved March 13, 2008 , from Webpage of Paul Treanor: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/few.futures.html

11 March 2008

A New and Improved Istanbul!! Brought to You by the Kind People at Purdue

While searching for aerial photographs of Istanbul for the Remote Sensing class that I am currently teaching, I came upon this “gem” of academic fantasy: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2008a/080109SozenAnimation.html

In this bulletin, it is stated:
Istanbul is at such high risk for a devastating earthquake that engineers at Purdue University and the Republic of Turkey have come up with a bold new proposal: build a second city.

A second, satellite city would provide immediate refuge to inhabitants of the old city in the event of a catastrophic earthquake and soften such an event's effects on the nation's economy.

This proposed project is another excellent example that visions of urban utopias did not die with Corbusier, Wright and Howard (Hall 2002, McAdams 2006). While I am not an advocate of urban utopian movements, there are some that I find more benign than others, such as the New Urbanism movement. However, the New Urbanism movement is merely an updated version of Howard's Garden City movement that has been turned into a marketing devise for exclusive upscale housing development. The concept is fragmented without a real overall vision and does not possess some of the spirit of the Garden City movement. Nevertheless, there are positive threads that may lead to an overall shift in the planning of cities and compatible with sustainability. On the other hand, the proponents of the utopian visions of Wright and Corbusier have the intention of creating cities consisting of either: high density monolithic commercial and residential structure with low density Bauhaus inspired industrial complexes; low density ‘disposable’ commercial/industrial and pre-packaged homes or a combination of both earlier described urban landscapes. It is clear that the creators of ‘New Istanbul’ have been inspired by the Wright/Corbusier utopian concept.

At my first glance at the website mentioned, I thought it was a spoof, but then realized that these professors were serious—making their efforts tragic instead of comic. It is stated further in the webpage, that the National Science Foundation funded this project-- which makes you wonder what their criteria they use when dividing up the grant monies. My research grant proposal on the " Teleportation as an alternative mode to alleviate urban congestion" may just have a chance with the NSF. The whole proposal reminds one of a Buck Rogers episode and the 1939 World’s Fair City of Tomorrow, except it does not have flying cars and people in costumes. Maybe they can update the webpage to include them.

Regardless of the my personal disgust with this project, I think these academicians should get an F for creativity. “Istanbul 2” is "Corbusier warmed over" with some 3-D animation thrown in to show that they were being innovative. I showed this to one of my graduate classes. One of the students in the class stated that the plan looked very similar to Brasilia, which is almost universality regarded as an example of bad urban design. Yet, the academic team at Purdue has no problem in transporting their version of Brasilia to Turkey. In fact, the website mentions Brasilia so there is no doubt that this what these professors used as inspiration for New Istanbul. (Also, it should be noted that their plan of New Istanbul is placed on a flat plain. I am curious to where this is as Istanbul does not have this type of topography.) As good students of urbanism know, Corbusier wanted to redesign Paris into his vision of a modern city. We are generally thankful that his utopia was never fulfilled in Paris. I say generally because there may be some “rogue” urbanist who may think differently. I doubt that anyone in a decision making capacity in Istanbul and Turkey is taking these ideas seriously. The website mentions there was cooperation from the Republic of Turkey, but this seems fabricated and fantasy as is this entire project. As far as can be discerned from the web site there was participation from some engineers from Turkey that cooperated, but they do not represent the Republic of Turkey.

“New Istanbul” is totally unrealistic and ultimately offensive to those who cherish Istanbul with its incomparable history, irreplaceable buildings and chaotic urban environments which remind its citizens of the pageant, the tragedy, the promise and the dynamics of urban life. Most citizens of this city would be lost if they had to live in the sterile urban environment that the folks for Purdue have planned for them after the earthquake. I and many citizens would take personally take up the bricks of Topakpi, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Aya Sofia and countless other buildings and lovingly restore them after the ‘Big Earthquake’. To leave them in ruins and start live in a faceless and “modern” Istanbul would be unthinkable to most residents of Istanbul. Istanbul has survived many earthquakes. It will survive another one and continue on as it has for over three thousand years.


Hall, P. Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Blackwell Publıshers, 2002.

Mcadams, M. The Information Age City: A Bourgeois Utopian Dream. Urbana. Autumn 2006. ttp://www.tamuk.edu/geo/urbana/Fall2006/index.htm
(Accessed March 12, 2008 ).