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The Re-Production Of The Historical Center Of İstanbul In 2000s: A Critical Account On Two Projects In Fener - Balat

Contemporary city is a multiplicity having social, political, cultural and economic projections. Production of urban space involves various mechanisms in which different interest groups play different roles in accordance with their identity, responsibility and agenda. In that sense, contemporary city is a ground of collision of conflicting interests that produce and transform urban space. Controlling urban space is a power struggle among different actors with varying agenda; constituting the basis of physical and socio-economic urban conversion (Keil, 2002). In the process of urban contradiction and change; social classes, capital accumulation and urban governments are three basic components with a fundamental role (Şengül, 2009). İstanbul has currently become the ‘stage’ of extensive urban space production and re-production processes; almost becoming a construction site in itself. The urban boundaries extend on a daily basis, while numerous transformation projects within the city center raise crucial questions. The cityscape is subjected to critical interventions that aim to re-shape some of the major cultural, historical and natural landmarks of the city. In short, İstanbul is currently undergoing a series of mega scale operations that will change the fabric of the city irreversibly. The mainstream space production processes in the İstanbul of 2000s are shaped by the neoliberal urban policies adopted by large scale capital, central and local governments that work hand in hand. In order to comprehend these processes, it is crucial to develop an understanding of the current urban political climate. This paper aims to take a critical look into the urban space production mechanisms of İstanbul’s historical residential center through an in depth comparative analysis of two consecutive projects that have taken place at the Golden Horn during the 2000s; having acutely different social, spatial and economical approaches and agendas; namely the Fener Balat Rehabilitation Project (FBRP) initiated by the European Union (EU) and The Fener, Balat, Ayvansaray Urban Renewal Project (FBAURP) initiated by Fatih Municipality (FM). Within the scope of paper; firstly an overview of the urban political dynamics of İstanbul is presented. Secondly, a brief discussion on the geographical context of the projects is introduced. Then, a discussion on the urban space production mechanisms of 2000s İstanbul is delivered through the investigation of two projects stated above. Finally, concluding remarks are presented.