Pelin Tan: Intimate Dwelling, Survival Infrastructure

Yona Friedman once suggested that communities, cities could exist, live without infrastructure. In recent cities, developed physical infrastructure creates oppression, double poverty and normalization in urban space. The cities are in transition. Minorities or communities have specific identities that are rooted in ethnic, religious and economical conditions. These are a situated identities, combined with the relation to urban space. The habitants of several certain neighborhoods of Istanbul and the local municipalities are in a process of debate and conflict since last few years. Since 2005, with the Urban Transformation and Renewal policy of 5366, which allows for the full authorization of municipalities for urban renovation/development, the legitimization of the recent urban transformation projects, which were defined in Istanbul speeded up. The policy allows municipalities to designate any place, district as an urban transformation area in Istanbul and to control their property rights, define their urban planning and architectural projects to be applied. Similarly to Sulukule, a mostly Romany populated neighborhood, many economically disadvantaged and ethnically marked districts are under pressure by local municipalities that push for urban transformation. Here, urban transformation means not to upgrade the physical environment of a certain rundown district and its social condition; but to replace the inhabitants and to initiate projects that are valuable for urban market. TOKI and local municipalities as the main actors of urban transformation projects in Turkey that present a localized version of neo-liberal urban condition and rescaling. TOKI (Housing Development Administration of Turkey) is a state department aiming to build social housings complex for poor people. However, TOKI acts as a private company, collaborating with municipalities in urban clearance projects in order to replace poor, ethnically marked communities. The majority of homeowners have opted to sell their houses to real estate speculators. According to the approved municipal renewal project, the tenants are not given the option to remain in the neighborhood and are offered houses in TOKI?s development in Tasoluk, 48 km away from the city, with 15 year long installments. Since the residents have low and irregular incomes it is almost impossible for them to commit to this years long payment scheme, and find new employment opportunities. As many of them could not adapt to their new homes and could not pay the monthly installments for their new apartments, as well as heat and maintenance fees, they generally move back to either Sulukule or neighboring areas. This paper is about the intimate dwelling possibilities and the survival of alternative infrastructures as opposed to the increased poverty resulting from the constrained modern infrastructure.