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Taksim Urban Design Competition / İstanbul /


Taksim Urban Design Competition / İstanbul

Architectural Project & Design:
Gokhan Avcioglu & GAD
Project Team:
Gokhan Karakus - Ozan Ertug - Jonathan Phillips - Kemal Arda Alkın - Burak Paksoy - Elif Mahya Nebiler - Aylin Degirmen - Batuhan Celebi
Building Type:
Recent, Public, Experimental

Initial memorial typology for place for Taksim :

Cemetery and necropolis history / Space turned in to PLACE, placemaking

The body part of the earth does not wait for exploration. The existence of space lives in its own kinesis when it is born. The body of space grows, moves, flows... It lives and refreshes itself in cycles. The communication way which it chooses depends on stimulus responses of inter-species. Living forms in all layers of the earth met on the hill of the Pera area 1500 years ago. Space turned in to a place when humans pointed the land as a graveyard which makes
the hill a memorial place of Istanbul for the first time.


When Freud presented “Wunderblock” as a model to demonstrate perception, consciousness and subconsciousness as layers of the human psyche, people have already begun to perceive the bottom layer in the model, the beeswax as the medium with which memory is stored. Wunderblock consisted of a celluloid layer on which written word is inscribed, a wax paper layer to transfer the written word to the bottom layer, a thicker beeswax to hold the image even when the top two layers were removed. Freud argued that the human mind recorded memories in the same way, first recording them to their “id” by using the “ego” as a means of transfer and permanently stored them in their “super ego”. The way it is set up, Wunderblock could easily be misconstrued as the way the mind works. Unlike the contraption, the mind not only recalled what was written in the past, but also a host of memories and feelings associated with the event.

Therefore, spaces to encompass the collective memories of societies; such as plazas and squares should be designed merely as “topos” that aided the recollection of common memories but should also aid the public to connect to the them beyond their physical mass, adding symbolic meanings to be recalled in the subconscious mind. To this end, the articles of the collective memory should not be confined to places where we safe-keep our past in places such as libraries, archives or museums. Rather, we should express our past in the present to help recall those memories and and create a positive synthesis in our design of public spaces. In other words, we should extract art from the archives of the collective memory and help people attach new sentiments or meanings to them by utilizing them in open, public spaces for all to see.


The monotonous nature of daily life in the modern urban environment creates a negative impact of the physical and spiritual health of the citizens. We should therefore offer a new approach to designing public spaces to break the vicious cycle of negative interaction between the people and their environment. It is already impossible to experience the spatial aspects of places in a metropolis like Istanbul; the speed of the daily grind hardly allows it. The concept of a square tends to lose its appeal by inevitably turning into a hub of mass transportation; Taksim Square being a typical example. The trick is to utilize the same space to help masses to slow down and take in the urban spirit, by breaking down repetitions and lending a new life and make them a viable aid for the human experience. Taksim lives in a vegetative state for many years. The potential of the area described as a "Wundercloud" which is full of potential energy to able to create. Point cloud embraces all of the places that have already been there. It covered the ruins which were destroyed once upon a time. And the cloud points out the possibilities that could embody the Taksim.

Strategies for Taksim Square as Public Space for Service
Local tourism through Permanent Exhibitions. Preserving material and immaterial heritage by transformation into tourism destination through embedded permanent exhibitions as cultural service. Physical Activity Especially for Children and Young People. Improve citizen health and well-being through spaces that can be used for sports and recreational activities in particular physical activity of children and young people and to sustainable family life by creating green open spaces.

Participation in Urban Life for All. Contribute to gender equality by improving comfort of women and girls, elderly and marginalized groups. Better lighting, wider pavements, transparency for security (see and be seen) and well maintained and accessible facilities such as public toilets as a first step to make women and girls feel safer in public spaces. Public hygiene as a service also through enhanced public health concepts such as drinking water. Public Space as a Driver for Urban Economics. City’s need to view public space as a driver for economic development within urban areas. The potential to generate income via market/retail zone improves the quality of public space as it stimulates consumption, improves security, and people's general perception of an area. Retail service in public space at the same time needs to be coordinated with neighbouring retail zones through complementary products and service offerings. Nature and Natural Eco-systems as Wellness. Urban space in terms of parks has been an element of the life of city’s since the 18th century. Today through increasing density of city’s the “nature” of these natural zones needs to be re-assessed in terms of wellness and health. Nature and natural ecosystems such as airflow, sunlight, flora and fora need to be seen as a focused wellness service provided by public space to improve mental and physical health, Qualitie of the Square

- Joining the layers of Istanbul's history and archaeology as public space
- Natural meditation zone for Taksim Square and Gezi Park
- Unify living layers through point cloud.
- Zone generated by circulation scenarios
- Market street
- Creative and artful
- A flexible plaza, canopies can be adjusted
- Daylighting the underground public function to bring levels together unified with market areas and public hygiene and

Technical Properties of the Proposal:

  • Flooring materials and elevations will be used to slow and diffuse traffic in areas where pedestrians have the priority. Specific lines of flow within these areas can be opened to service vehicles between 2 and 10 AM. (In the future, as autonomous service vehicles become common, they can be programmed to follow these lines, ensuring pedestrian safety).
  • The walls surrounding the Atatürk Library will be dismantled and the area currently within them will be opened for public
    use and feature an information park.
  • The grid arrangement of the sidewalks within the former municipal garden will be extended to facilitate access to and from Gezi Park and the pedestrian bridge.
  • The underground area connecting the entrances of the M2 Metro station with F1 funicular station will be opened to the sky and become a lower-level plaza within the square. Likewise, a similar opening will be made at the corner of Gezi Park connecting the square to the metro entrance below (at the location of the current escalators and elevators).
  •  An additional visual connection will be provided between the square and the submerged part of Cumhuriyet Avenue (at a location approximately halfway between the Monument of the Republic and block 410). And finally, at the intersection of Tak-ı Zafer and Inönü Avenues, the exit for the metro will again be articulated as an opening in the ground rather than merely stairs and escalators.
  • Because the street food buffets in front of the Hagia Triada Greek Orthodox Church are a part of the memory and culture of the area, these buildings will be reconstructed and their functions maintained. The structural articulation, the planning, and the line of the roofs will be will be brought into a more organized form.
  • Arrangements will be made along the western edge of the Gezi Park to better connect the park and the linear extension of the Taksim square toward Elmadag (formerly Cumhuriyet Avenue). The most important of these will be to extend the axes in Proust’s original plan, creating green amphitheaters along the skirt of the park. These amphitheaters can be used separately for impromptu or scheduled performances in a regulated performance zone a their base, or they can be used together as a whole for larger shows. Behind this performance zone, a linear market comprised of lightweight structures, some of which may be demountable, will be arranged around the existing potted trees.The market will be lined by freestanding canopies which will define the axes to the square proper and also protect pedestrians in inclement weather. These non-continuous canopies will circulate throughout the square, around the newly-opened sunken plazas, to various points and areas of attraction. They will extend the axes of the Monument of the Republic and in some places serve additional functional needs such as stages, meeting points, information posts, and security kiosks. Importantly, these canopies are located along various lines that have defined the square in its various manifestations in history. They are physical manifestations of the layers of the square in the city’s memory. The open areas that are vaguely defined by these canopies serve to designate the boundaries and ensure the safety of various – even simultaneous – events that take place in the square. Artistic installations will be placed inside Gezi Park so that in addition to its function as an un-programmed recreational park it will have an additional significance as an art park. By annual competition or invitation, a lightweight, temporary entranceway will be constructed at the main stairs to Gezi Park. It will be a continually changing point of attraction that may also feature projections or virtual reality displays. The intent of these artistic installations is to reinforce the visual, auditory, and olfactory gravitational pull of Taksim and its surroundings and to turn the park into a 24-hour place of culture. A cafeteria at the corner of the park should be an exemplar of contemporary architecture: a point of attraction that will also direct people’s attention to the Atatürk library. In addition to these proposals, it will be necessary to reduce traffic and prioritize pedestrian flow along the Harbiye,
    Gümüssuyu, and Sıraselviler axes.