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Zaha Hadid project in Kartal, Istanbul, an update

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normal Zaha Hadid project in Kartal, Istanbul, an update

Zaha Hadid master plan for Kartal, Istanbul, stone quarry area around E5 highway
In an era of massive change in urban centers, Istanbul is set to
make its mark as a major world city with a signature project for the
21st century. The Kartal, Zaha Hadid project, or as it is officially
known, the Kartal Industrial Area Central Business District Plan
(Kartal Sanayi Bölgesi Merkezi İş Alanları Planlaması) is the city’s
most ambitious building project undertaken in recent memory. If it is
built according to Hadid’s master plan, the 555 hectare site stretching
from the Sea of Marmara up to the stone quarries of the E5 highway will
be an important business district and center for tourism and leisure.
Furthermore, the project’s focus on business and tourism activity will
make it an important alternative business district to Istanbul’s
current Central Business District in the Levent-Mazlak zone as the city
attempts to make a mark on the global stage. Hadid’s design, an
ambitious architectural vocabulary of flowing forms and undulating
lines in steel, glass and concrete never seen before in the country,
promises to be a bold statement in futurism for a city dominated for so
long by it’s history.

Zaha Hadid master plan for Kartal, Istanbul, Kartal coast line and new marina
Hadid unveils new project images
An important step in this project’s development took place on Feburary
21, 2008, in a press conference at the city government bureau that
originated this effort, the Istanbul Greater Municipality, Metropolitan
Planning and Urban Design Centre, (İstanbul Metropoliten Planlama ve
Kentsel Tasarım Merkezi). At the conference attended by Hadid, Mayor
Kadir Topbas, Kartal Mayor Arif Dağlar, İMP Director Prof. Dr. İbrahim
Baz and architectural consultant Süha Özkan details were announced for
the Kartal project as it moved from vision to reality. In what will be
Istanbul’s most important building project since ex-Mayor Bedrettin
Dalan’s infrastructural road works of the 1980s, new project drawings
and computer images were unveiled that show a vast cityscape of Hadid’s
slipstream forms in a mix of tower and courtyard building types. This
project which dates back to an invited competition in 2005 that
included other top tier architects such as Kisho Kurokawa, Massimiliano
Fuksas, was won by Zaha Hadid in 2006 . The consortium of stakeholders
in the project, a mix of local government, landowners, a planning
commission and an architect of an international stature such as Hadid
was a first for Istanbul and Turkey. While in the last two years the
project had been stuck in limbo as the landowners negotiated with each
other and the Kartal and Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediye, the recent press
conference was a clear sign that this project will be moving forward to
construction pegged for 2009.
What we see now in these new drawings is that Zaha Hadid Architect’s
design has been gone through increased levels of detailing since it was
first voted winner of the invited competition back in 2006. The designs
for the initial winning proposal showed a sleek landscape of buildings
that mimicked Istanbul’s undulating topography. These buildings were a
mix of a few dominant types – towers that resembled stretched tree
trunks, lozenge shaped square buildings some with courtyards and flat
pointy attenuated diamond shape structures stretching out in the sea.
The plan coordinated the shapes of the buildings into a wavy,
undulating landscape that fluidly connected each building. The concept
was to calibrate the fluidity of Istanbul’s dynamic urbanism with its
counterpoint in Hadid’s dynamic architectural geometry. The plan
amounted to a web or net of buildings weaving together the existing
older fabric with the new. Areas of density with clumps of towers were
mixed with low rise buildings to form this man-made hilly
architopography. The design and size, over 6,000,000m2 construction
area, combined to make this undertaking one of the most radical effort
taken in Istanbul architecture and planning since the golden age of
Ottoman architecture in the 16th century.

Zaha Hadid with Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş during February 2008 press conference
The Municipalities polycentric urban design strategy
While the project was rolled out with a major publicity campaign, in
the interim between 2006 there was little news about the development of
the project beyond Hadid’s and Mayor Topbas’ occasional public
announcements that the landowners had been negotiating the details of
the plan. The participation of the private sector was in fact an
important element of Kartal differentiating it from other large public
works projects in Turkey currently. The regeneration scheme was a joint
public and private sector initiative providing it, in the minds of
many, half a chance of being built as initially proposed in Hadid’s
visionary design.
The program was driven from the Municipalities desire to create an
alternative to the European side influence on the city in the “bedroom
communities” of the Asian side. As such it called for a mix of public
and private activities including the center piece central business
district in addition to high-end residential development, cultural
facilities such as concert halls, museums, and theatres, and leisure
programs including a marina and tourist hotels. The press conference in
February provided more detail and showed the plan had advanced from
concept towards preparations for construction. Hadid’s plan was an
ambition one, largely based on the IMP’s and Mayor Topbas’ desire to
create multiple city centers for economic benefit and
transportation/logistical efficiency. The master plan’s main strategies
according to Hadid are:

  • to balance Istanbul: helping the city to become polycentric (as an
    antidote to the current mono-centric bias of the European side.)
  • to generate an economic impetus: creating a ripple effect of wealth into the areas adjacent to the master plan.
  • to create new vibrant, urban city quarters where approximately 100
    000 people can live and work, supported by integrated public transport

Radical architecture for an old city
At the press conference new renders created by Zaha Hadid Architects
showed the project at a more advanced stage of design. The
architectural language of undulating waves and net-like forms in the
initial concept had now been adapted more convincingly to the urban
context. Instead of the large monolithic blocks of the concept, the new
renders show a more nuanced language dominated by the large tree trunk
towers and the lozenge shaped perimeter blocks buildings lining the
axes of the main blocks of the plan. Criticism of the initial concept’s
overtly monolithic scale and lack of street level planning that could
synthesize more convincingly with Istanbul’s famous street activity was
now settled with this design. At street level in this updated scheme,
spaces flowed into other spaces in a dynamic fluid way throughout the
plan. The architecture of the orthogonal and square which was and is
the dominant language of Turkish architecture was in Hadid’s design
replaced by an architecture of the curve and vector. Not since the days
of Mimar Sinan had Istanbul seen an architecture that combined
mathematical and formal precision in such a convincing way. Seemingly
Hadid’s dynamic architecture had more in common with the premodern
classical Ottoman period than the watered down modernist, 20th century
architecture that had been employed in Istanbul’s architecture for such
a long time.
The importance of Hadid’s Kartal plan architecturally could now also
be clearly seen. Istanbul long suffering from a lack of a distinct
contemporary urban design language and character has now been given
with these latest images from the Kartal project a new forward looking
vision. This vision, an architecture of dynamic, sweeping forms in
glass and steel with great lateral and vertical power has to considered
one of the first original takes on what contemporary architecture in
Istanbul and Turkey could be as the city tries to become capital of the
Eurasian region. The long standing domination of the anonymous,
informal architectures of the squatter areas and urban sprawl of the
last 30 years could now finally be reconfigured by a bold statement in
architectural form. In the context of modern architecture and real
estate in Istanbul, the worn out 20th century modernist architectures
still employed by the vast majority of Turkish architects was now given
an alternative in Hadid’s design. Both the existing formal and informal
architecture of Istanbul, the hegemonic combination in the urban fabric
of anonymous apartment buildings and unpleasant modernist blocks, could
seemingly after many years give way to a vision for a new Istanbul of
dynamic, attenuated, lively forms.
Hadid’s design will undoubtedly grow and develop through more
detailed work in her own office and with the inclusion of many other
architects responsible for each building’s design. If the over-taxed
Hadid can keep creative focus on this project, we expect more details
of this convincing design where more interesting formal and
architectonic conditions of equal innovative force will be revealed. In
light of the failure of the last 30 years to create a bold design for
such an important city as Istanbul it seems miraculous that Hadid’s
team comprised of young architects including a few Turkish architects
(Sevil Yazici, Saffet Bekiroglu) has gotten this far at all in their
design work.

Zaha Hadid master plan for Kartal, Istanbul, aerial view of Kartal and project area

Current view of Kartal, Istanbul 2008

o A gridded network of streets with 3 major clusters of density,
allowing for a dynamic skyline that takes advantage of the coastal
disposition, sea views and controlling vistas.
o A new main Boulevard to be the primary artery - the “spine” of the
entire masterplan – providing connectivity between the new metro
station in the North and the rail and motorway transport hub in the
South - with a new over ground light railway/tram.
o Two main Central Business Districts: one in the North and one in the South of the masterplan.
o A polarity of major focal points with large public and recreational areas:
The North: the quarry becomes a major open recreational area - landscaped and centred around the lake.
The South: the marina and recreational areas near the seafront are developed in conjunction with the Cultural District.
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