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A Study on urban political discourses: entrepreneurial urbanism and opposition in the case of Basmane çukuru in İzmir

Çalıkoğlu, Gökçe
Local authorities, real estate developers, investors, professional chambers, non-governmental organizations and the general public. These are the leading ‘urban actors’ who play specific roles in the (re)production of today’s urban environments. Especially in the processes that involve contradictory urban development initiatives, the conflicting discourses of the actors and their effects on the course of the events become apparent. In the current urban atmosphere where the adopted urban policies aimed at inward investment, growth and capital accumulation; local authorities’ attempts of legitimization provoke new urban oppositions. In order to provide an insight into the roles that influential actors play in urban management and opposition during controversial urban processes, this thesis focuses on an unsolved urban problem for decades: “Basmane Pit” in İzmir. This piece of land, located in the city center, was privatized in the past and subject to several architectural competitions, lawsuits and plan revisions; it has once again settled on the city's agenda with the acquisition by a major construction firm. Despite the firm's efforts to obtain public consent and the local government's support for the project, the professional chambers and non-governmental organizations opposed to it, arguing that it is neither compatible with its immediate environment nor with the city planning principles and bylaws. The present thesis argues that the new high-rise project proposed for Basmane Pit exemplify the use of architectural images in the branding strategies shaped by the demands of competitive global market, which points to the changing social and economic priorities. The aim of the thesis is to analyze the particularities of the entrepreneurial urban development policies and their implication in the consolidation of an urban opposition. In this study, an analysis of the discourses was done to critically evaluate the multilayered processes that this urban case has been through over the years. This thesis also brings an exploration of the ways in which the media influence urban processes as a platform both for the promotion/legitimization and opposition/organization. As a result of the case study, a discussion was raised on whether the urban controversies could be viewed as opportunities for democracy inthe urban public realm.