Şevin Yıldız: First of all, I would like to specially ask you about masterplans. As an urban planner do you think that masterplans are still valid in this century where everything is changing so rapidly, so unexpectedly? In our country, we, as architects and planners, have a little bit of suspicion towards masterplans because it takes too much time to do it and afterwards it loses its validity. And, as a tool mostly we can not use it very effectively, so I would like to ask you about your approach to this subject.
Kees Christiaanse: We love to make masterplans exactly, because of the reasons that you just mentioned. Nowadays, you can not design a region, and because of implementation reasons, it can only be ready in the next ten years. It’s not possible, because every two years something else happens. So, you must work with something that takes into account unexpected social, demographic, and political conditions, that can work with different speeds or accommodate varying programs, and that has all kinds of flexibility. Now the question is can you make a masterplan or not? We say “yes” because we have been developing a working method in making masterplans that has this potential of flexibility, but at the same time, has a very strong quality of public space and also very strong quality in design principles.
So, for instance, we prepare masterplans which have a very self-evident basic structure and are sustainable for many years. And, we test different phasings and rules on the building plots which are also flexible. So, we experiment with the valid between flexibility and fixation. Therefore in that respect, we think it’s very interesting to make masterplans nowadays. We also find it necessary, because if you do not make masterplans, it brings a total anarchy. In addition to that, if you make fixed urban visions, you have no way of getting there again.
ŞY: So, that’s a new definition of a masterplan in your own way…
KC: Yes, that’s our definition of a master plan. It is a sustainable framework for development that accommodates different programs at different times and speeds in different circumstances. However, it has basic design qualities, therein it’s not a planning tool, nor is it ain’t only based on administrative aspects, it is a design tool. So we fix certain elements that you think are very important and which we think are also long-lasting.
ŞY: And, then you change it according to the dynamics…
KC: Yes, certainly. And here after masterplaning becomes very attractive.
ŞY: But in fact, it is not very practical in terms of the situation that we don’t have stable economic and political conditions. It takes more than flexibility in our countries for a master plan to be successful.
KC: That’s true. And, the second step is the process. You have to indicate the right process. Therefore we’d always try to make the correct masterplans but also design the process as a daily subject for people to talk with each other.
ŞY: Maybe that’s even more important…
KC: That’s at least as important as that.Because otherwise, the quality of your master plan may be less strong. So, we have been trying to do that in situations with bad economies, like Eastern Germany, where there is no growth, but only ruins. We have been testing it in other areas where there are a lot of squatters, and it seems to work. So I think this methodology could be adapted to here very well, for instance, in this city. I would be very eager to test the way we work here, in an area, to transform the area. Not to wipe out the area and build something new, but to transform it.
Gülin Şenol: I want to ask you something about “mixed function”, and “mixed-use”. It’s been too long since architects and urban planners have left the progress of “segregation” which shapes and segregates cities to function, for instance, here is a working area, there is a housing area, etc.
But segregation is still here and I think it’s getting more dangerous. Because, if one does not know how to define segregation correctly, the segregation process can dominate big areas of cities and can turn them into satellites.
KC: That’s true.
GŞ: Since you are describing your project as “mixed-use”, I want to ask you, what is your point of view of “segregation”?
KC: There are a lot of urban situations in which you can not very well influence the condition of mono-functionality, that there is only one function. For example, business blocks or shopping malls or things like. Today, there is a tendency to generate a kind of mono-functionality and consequently produce segregated unity. For instance, legislation in the Netherlands prevents housing from being completely mixed up with enterprises, so there are housing estates next to business blocks.
This is a problem, but on the other hand, you can work on it in a strategic way. For instance, you can work with “mixed-use” in a kind of homoeopathic way: Like a kind of acupuncture. As an example, you have a business park area and you say: “Ok, we can not mix it up with housing but we can put some strategic points here and there”, where you make public services, some small concentration of housing, some recreation facilities. So the whole area is mainly still a segregated area but you have certain points into it where you bring to life with other functions, and that works. A good example is Silicon Valley in San Francisco: First of all, it was a university campus, and with these soft enterprises and computer industries, it became a big business part. But at a certain point, it became so dense that they attracted restaurants, hotels, housing, etc. Gradually, it became a city in the end. Therefore we can not prevent trends to mono-functionality and segregation completely. However, we may have a strategy on technical instruments in the urban design aspect that we determine its strategic points, and conditions for the development of auto-functions. And, these auto functions could be when they are right and strong enough to give these situations a little bit of better urban condition.
If you say that it’s bad and we should mix up everything, you might be right but it is not possible at the moment. It’s not following social and economic tendencies today. Saying “ok then, we are lost, segregation is there and this is only bad” is not true, because if you work hard you can derive successful tasks under these circumstances. But of course, together with this segregation, we have what is much more dangerous; the aspect of scale jump-enlargement of scale.
Here, in this area, you have all kinds of houses and functions. And, in the periphery, you have a block of 200 meters which is only a shopping mall. Now the danger in old cities is that these old neighbourhoods are being replaced by only one function, which is even more dangerous than the aspect of segregation and new developments. Also, we are working we call it homoeopathic interventions because they are very thin, great small interventions, and injections. If you make them very good and strong, in the right position, then they will have a sort of effect.
ŞY: Do you think that this “mixed functioning” is an alternative for also social-function between social groups? I mean, how far does it work? Like replacing the workers in a restaurant with socially disadvantaged people, maybe it works in one example but in another example, like placing high income residences just next to offices or any other commercial places with socially disadvantaged people…How does the tension work there?
KC: It depends on the type of city and the country you’re working on.
ŞY: So, “mixed functioning” can vary according to different…
KC: Yes, I think so. In general, people should not be too afraid of it. In fact, it is less problematic than people think. Like the fact that you have all these gated communities here. In most of these gated communities, the walls are not necessary because they will not have any problems. They only have a psychological wall around them. The same is probably applicable to situations where a more luxurious environment is settled close to a poorer environment. It is a problem in countries where there is a lot of violence, like Brazil. But European countries aren’t like Turkey. I don’t think it is a problem at all. It is even contributing to the process of development and gentrification, which is good for the city anyway. I don’t know, you have here this example of the American Embassy, haven’t you? I don’t know exactly what happened but…
ŞY: Yes…You should see the new one.
KC: Yes, I saw it from a boat in the Bosphorus.
ŞY: Well, you should see the neighbourhood it is located in. I mean, it’s just like a castle on top of a hill where a low-income neighbourhood is situated. So, people are very disturbed by its presence, because of high security reasons there.
KC: The security problem is terrible.
Ömer Kanıpak: In that neighbourhood, it also has a small American living.
GŞ: Yes, there is a Dunkin Donut…
KC: But, before the Embassy, it was a poor neighbourhood, right?
ŞY: Yes, quite poor; it’s still a poor one. When the Embassy moved there, they did a security check. They checked the homes of all the people and checked the records of the people living there, so it was just like the whole neighbourhood was checked.
ÖK: Can you show examples of your projects; especially the one in the Netherlands? The question of security comes to my mind; I think it is not a very big issue, especially in the Netherlands because you can not create open public spaces in the neighbourhood or even in the apartment blocks. But security is a big problem, especially in Istanbul or in big metropolises. If you had the chance to design a social housing, for example in Istanbul, what would be your tools?
KC: That’s a good question. But I must say that certain parts of Amsterdam and certain parts of Rotterdam are more dangerous than Istanbul; because we have the problem of immigrants. The Dutch state has been too tolerant and does not control these groups. This ended up with the formation of certain areas, where one can not walk on the street; one can not take the metro at night. This is ridiculous. The situation is similar to Paris, to the banlieues around Paris, they have had these rights. We have also had these rights, the same kind of rights. And, you also have it in London. There you also have it, in areas like Brixton you have this security problem. But you don’t have it in Germany at all.
Therefore, while we have been designing a social house in such a poor neighbourhood in Amsterdam, we devised a set of criteria to be designed and implemented in the scheme which is directly connected to social control. Istanbul is a very safe city with 15 million people; I think one of the reasons for this safety is the social control in the neighbourhood. I think social control is a much better instrument to arrive at social security than cameras, walls and fences. So, for instance, what we did was we said, we make apartment buildings, but we make as many front doors of apartments on the ground floor so that everybody has his own letterbox and has his own territory entrance. So this is one point of the project which is not always possible. Then we connected a maximum of, for instance, 8 to 10 apartments in one status so that everybody knows each other and that the distance to the front door is very close. Then we make much glass, in this way you have a transparent view, then we make all the ground level parts of the buildings inhabited. They are not circles with storage or parking but they are ground-level active zones with people who live there or work there. Then, in the public space, we do not make a nice garden or lawn but we give to the people in the flats, also the people at the top, little gardens. So, people start to care for their environment. And, we have a completion of all these interventions. In the end, for instance, we have a much higher level of social security in that area than somewhere else.
ÖK: You add a human factor as a design element.
ŞY: As intermedia.
KC: Yes, that’s right.
GŞ: How do you define the social meaning of “sustainability”? While talking about “sustainability”, generally it is given point to its ecological meaning, but it is very necessary to bring social cohesion…
GŞ: …and make the place vibrant.
KC: Did you read our list about it?
GŞ: Yes, I did.
KC: Because we have a kind of expression that says that dominant “social sustainability” and “sustainable technology” are real “sustainability”. Expressing “sustainable technology”, we say that “You don’t use much energy and you have to clean water and have water management etc.”, but then nobody says; “All right, what is urban social sustainability?”
At this point, we have to check the list of criteria. It’s that we do not make urban design as a tabula rasa, transformation concept, and unexpectedness of flexibility, that we make very efficient land use, that we work on the transition between public and private, that we work on the collective control and the maintenance of public space by the inhabitants, that we create active pontages on the ground level, etc. I’m always tied to the design of the neighbourhood according to those criteria.
GŞ: In your lecture at Istanbul Bilgi University, while you were talking about your housing complex you used the term “socializing machine” for your house. It’s very interesting to depict a house as a “socializing machine”, because of the increasing number of gated communities and demands for gated communities. At this point, it’s very interesting to make the city centre attractive for families. What is your strategy to make the city centre and make the house attractive?
KC: It is very true. It’s not so easy, and also cultural. For example, the German people are more likely to live in the city than the Dutch people. Dutch people are a bit like Americans; they were farmers and after the war, they became wealthy and held houses. So, they’re like suburban people more than living in the city. The German people are much more used to living in cities because they also have very beautiful 19th-century neighbourhoods. They are very nice and unique areas. Scilicet depends on the country, region and culture.
However, let’s say generally there is a tendency of families with children to go out of the city. It is like an American dream: A big house with a car. You can see it everywhere; we have seen the same neighbourhood in Shangai, the same neighbourhood in Florida and Moscow. So, that is a kind of global city idea that everybody likes and the consequence is that the city itself is abandoned by families, and only the poor families, students, and artists, stay there.
So socially imbalanced situations occur. Sometimes it becomes a very bad situation like in Detroit. Detroit is a horrible city, completely human-wrecked.
GŞ: Detroit is a horrible city.
KC: So, we try in Holland, to return a certain amount of people with families back into the city. And we have two good conditions to do that. First thing is we have many harbour areas in cities that are abandoned. And the second thing is that these harbour areas are owned by the city. Therefore, the land price can be determined by the city and can be kept low. So you can get housing in, if the prices will be commercial, like on the Bosphorus, you’ll be able to make housing. So, with these two advantages, we have in the Netherlands, we’ll be able to get low-rise, high-density housing for families back into the city.
ÖK: Is it working?
KC: Yes, It’s working a little bit.
ÖK: But, what happens to the rural areas? All the people are coming to cities, are they emptied?
KC: No. It’s not so dramatic. The percentage of these harbour areas, these family residents about the people living around the city is very low. It’s very little. But, it helps to bring the city to a better condition. But of course, there is still the development of green fields going on. However, that’s a very contradictory situation because we have a very small country. It’s about the size of the European part of Turkey. And there are about fifteen or sixteen million people. So it’s about the same conditions with Istanbul in that respect. And you drive in two hours from one end to the other. Now the strange condition is that we have enough space left because it was farmland, and the farmers are stopping to produce because the farmers do not make money any more. So they move to Poland or Canada. And we get our milk from Poland. So the part of the country site is being developed because it is not agricultural any more. But there is a kind of anti-urban movement that tries to prevent more settlements from being in the land. So we have the strange thing that the fields are not used. That they are artificial, not natural. They are not allowed to be used for development too much. Therefore nobody knows what to do with them.
ÖK: And the birth rate is not too high. So the population is quite stable.
KC: It’s quite stable. And now it’s the first year, this year it’s going down.
ÖK: Actually, that means that the development would stop?
KC: Yes, I think it will automatically stop. The strange thing that you see now is that people create this beautiful circumstance, they recreate water. Formerly we took land from the water, water was our enemy, and now we make water again to make nice houses on the water. It is very strange. But, I think development will gradually stabilize because I think the population will more or less stabilize. We will get older, we have this ageing problem.
ÖK: You don’t have so much immigration problem recently as much as in past years?
KC: No, not any more…
ÖK: Is it a good thing? What do you think about the future of the Nederlands? I mean, should the development and economy be steady?
KC: I think the economy is a little bit in danger maybe because there are not enough people. But you could also imagine that gradually what adapts to having fewer people. I mean a country like Finland is only 4 million people, ten times bigger than Holland and also is wealthy.
ŞY: Maybe focusing on one type of industry, I mean Finnish people are doing IT technologies and timber work…
KC: In Holland, we almost don’t have industry. So it is trade, services and transport distribution. The Dutch have all the truck companies and all the world companies, the courier services, etc.
ŞY: At this point, I would like to ask you a question, because we have a recent problem, as architects we also can not understand the process, we have a huge pressure on the housing industry in Turkey now, maybe you also have observed, that we have like 114 housing projects that are under construction right now in Istanbul and none of them are social housing. They have huge surface areas so, I would like to ask you as a planner, what is the reason for pressurizing housing so much and what is expected as the dynamic of housing. While people are designing housing, what are their expectations? I think it should not be only about the immigration rate. In Berlin, I know that people were expecting a lot of immigration ten years ago and they built many houses, people didn’t come, the houses stayed the same and now a lot of housing is empty. And we are currently constructing a huge amount of housing so, what is your opinion about this?
KC: Maybe in that respect Netherlands is a good example because in the Netherlands we built millions of houses after the war, social housing, big apartment buildings which are now being taken down. This is not so bad, because they have served 30- 40 years and they have been built for a condition that is not present any more. The condition was more or less an emergency condition after the war. And, what you see now is that because all these apartments were in the hands of housing corporations or the city, they can just decide to take them down or sell them. So, what happens now? They’ll be replaced by some low-rise apartments. We do exactly the reverse of what happens here; we take down the high-rise and replace it with a dense low-rise. Here you are taking down the “gecekondu” (clutter) and replacing them with high-rise ones.
ŞY: And, we won’t maybe have the opportunity to reverse it because it will be private ownership. All these houses are now done by the city itself. So they will be privately owned and will be used for investment in the end.
ÖK: But, I think that the market economy will find its way in the future.
ŞY: But I’m asking that you think that it works in that way, the market economy is finding its way or like in the Berlin example…
KC: Let’s say it differently. What people here are trying to do now, I think is understandable out of needed housing capacity, but I think, that the urban designs and the typology are wrong. I think that it is possible to make very qualitative housing and neighbourhoods here, that are high density, that are not high-rise towers and that have a kind of flexible system and can adapt to the future. And I think that is more the key to work on. You create other typologies that meet the demand of the housing market; because that is also an economical engine for the welfare of the city. Building production anyway, is a very positive economic force for the development of the city. But the question is how do you do that? And what happens now is if they go on as they do now, you’ll have all the clutter (gecekondu) areas gone and the towers everywhere…
ŞY: Not only the gecekondu areas I am suspecting that also the industrial and trade zones are under the pressure of this housing boom. I was going to ask you, in this manner, why you are always telling me about the flexibility in post-industrial areas. Of course, when something is posted it’s easier to reckon or to plan that area, but we have areas like we are in a trans-industrial process now like in Mexico City or Johannesburg. We are still producing but we are in a transition period and soon it will be replaced by something else. It’s very critical to work on this just in this phase of transition.
KC: True, however, on the other hand, the Turkish industry is very good, you know.
ŞY: In the case of Istanbul, I think it is not that positive, because we know the textile industry has undergone serious problems. So, the industry in Istanbul which is mainly textile will be replaced by something else, we are just in a period of transition.
KC: As you know these things are very difficult to predict.Because, the textile here is also in crisis because of the low rates in Romania, Ukraine, and China. Nobody would have expected 10 years ago that it would be so bad. So, I think there are always these kinds of very strong changes in cities, due to certain influences from the world that nobody can predict. In a way, the same thing happens in the Netherlands, in the harbours, the shipbuilding industry. We had a big industry 25-30 years ago, which was a shipbuilding industry. And there were extreme harbour activities. The shipping industry died because Korea and Japan were making the same ships for half of the price. So the whole Dutch ship industry is dead. It was one thousand years old.
GŞ: What about the car industry? Because you know that, at low price car production, Chinese are…
KC: We don’t have a car industry. That is for the Germans. So one of the core businesses of the culture with a history of a thousand years was gone within ten years. The second thing is that harbour activities faced such a scale enlargement that the harbours in the neighbourhoods of cities were abandoned and much bigger harbours were created outside. So you have these two events that had a totally radical effect on the economy of the city. Work left the city, the activity left the city, whole type of economic factors left the country. The factor of these abandoned industrial areas can’t turn out to be positive. So, if we can densify the city within its borders, we can build very high qualitative sites.
ÖK: Maybe you know that in Istanbul there is a current tendency to empty shipyards around the Golden Horn area, the tourist places, also small-scale workshops around the neighbourhood, the tendency to homogenize places, which are not used by the citizens but used by the tourists only. How do you think that it can be prevented? Do you have similar experiences in other countries or other cities?
KC: I think the ship-building activity is changing by itself. But, for instance, here down in the Golden Horn, you have all these lamp shops and iron shops that the city government wants to move outside of these big buildings, which I find very wrong. Because, you can much better accompany these neighbourhoods by urban renovation, by helping property of real estate, balancing it, by upgrading on buildings, so that people who are renting or having those shops will also have kind of a regeneration value and automatically some of this iron shops will go. The poorer and less smart ones will not survive in those areas when the rents increase. Then you get a kind of leveling out and a process of gentrification which is much more human, personal gentrification. And also is much more sensible for the preservation of the public space and fine grain of the neighbourhood. So, I think you can develop policies for these kinds of economic activities. And I think these kinds of massive deportations are completely wrong.
GŞ: At this point, I want to ask you about the urban… Tourism and consumption are being used as urban renewal tools because these areas must be attractive and profitable for investors; because the first goal of investors is to get huge profits in the short term and tourism can achieve this.
At this point, is it possible to describe an urban renewal project which is not profitable-? bringing? Is it possible to exclude market forces?
KC: No, but let’s say depends on the site. If you go to the end of the Golden Horn where the Santral is being built, there you can also work with the neighbourhood, participation, kind of social programs and you can get a kind of low profile revitalization going on, least work with small profits or small parties. But of course, here in the centre, in the end, global tourism will gain. There is nothing to stop it. You see it already in the bazaar. The bazaar could also be in Holywood or the centre of London.
ŞY: Did you also realize the change in Istiklal Street, the shops, etc?
KC: Yes, completely changing.
ÖK: And there is also a steady homogenization process going on both in the bazaar and tourist areas. For example, if I were a tourist coming to Istanbul, I would like to see more different varieties in the bazaar. All you can see is the gold shops and carpet sellers, nothing else.
KC: I mean the Bazaar is a real example of international tourism. If you go to the bazaar people say there are 500 shops but there are only 5 shops: one for Turkish delight and herbs, one for carpets, one for souvenirs and water pipes, one for scarves, and one for gold, so that’s all there. So, there are only five shops, they sell the same and have the same price, and it’s very difficult to look for something special.
ÖK: What do you think about the future of tourism? I think mass tourism is going to die in the future because of the ever-broadening communication matters. I mean because you don’t need to see with your eyes, you can visit by mass communication tools. You see by television by internet…
KC: No, I don’t think so. I think the most beautiful cities like Istanbul; will have an eternal and ever-increasing attraction for tourism. For instance, Amsterdam which used to be popular for the Japanese starting at the end of the ’60s, became completely boomed in the ’70s and beginning of the ’80s, now it’s going down but who is coming now to Amsterdam? The Rich Chinese! Chinese is an unlimited resource.
ŞY: For everybody in the world…
KC: Yes…For instance, you see suddenly an enormous mass of Czechs and Polish people coming to Amsterdam. I think Istanbul is a very big attraction for the whole of Asia. They come from Azerbaijan, they come here from Ukraine. So I’m a little bit pessimistic about the force of international tourists. I think it’s so powerful and profitable, and it is such a good political tool for politicians to make their city more beautiful. I think Istanbul will be like Barcelona if it goes on like this.
ŞY: Do you know anything about Haydarpaşa Port area transformation? Do you know where Haydarpaşa is?
KC: That’s on the other side.
KC: You mean the scheme of Zaha Hadid?
ŞY: No, no. She didn’t design anything there. Do you know this port area of Haydarpaşa, Harem?
KC: Yes, yes. Where the two towers…
ŞY: Yes. The two towers of the University Of Marmara. The city is planning to move the harbour to the outskirts of the city and use that plot as a tourism area and international fair area for the future, they gave the commission to different architects and they are now designing a project like a gated visit area for the future, where they will have this international fair activity, high-income residences, conference areas and some public space they say. But it will surely be like a satellite city.
ÖK: Like forum 2004 in Barcelona…
KC: Yes, something similar.
ÖK: But on a much larger scale…
GŞ: There would also be housing…
ŞY: In my interview with the architect of the project, he claims that there will also be social housing but I am not very sure how will he survive with all of these. I think it will probably be for the service people who will work in the area. So, we think that it will be like a satellite within the city. The crazier ships will come and bring tourists and then, take the tourists from there and go away. So, what will be your comment on this kind of transformation within the city?
KC: Let’s say, it could be done. But first of all, it should be a masterplan that should be processed rather than a fixed vision so that they could change, what is very important in this kind of development is a fine grain of connectivity, which means that the street pattern within it, should be maximum small and maximum connected to the surrounding street pattern, should not be closed, definitely not. Maybe some small exhibition areas but should not be closed as a whole. So, it should be a living neighbourhood. And then you should work on the different balance of functions. I would not say that would not be possible, but it would always be building in anticipation and procedures and criteria so that it would be part of the city, instead of a kind of an isolated bowl.
ÖK: The problem in Haydarpaşa is I think, they just started by just drawing.
ŞY: A fixed vision and without any masterplans…
ÖK: Everyone wants to see the drawings and the renderings, at first.
ŞY: And the whole discussion was carried on from the idea of finding a symbol for the city of Istanbul as if it does not have a symbol with the mosques and the silhouette. They are claiming that they’re bringing a new symbol for the city with those seven skyscrapers, in that area. The area is across the historical peninsula. The whole discussion was started from a different point. That was the idea.
KC: Of course, we always have the problem when we make a master plan like I have just told you. We have to make drawings, of what it looks like, in some other way or build models, because in other ways, people, professionals can’t understand it. At this point, the danger is that almost immediately they take this picture or model seriously, as a fixed vision. Ask for completely different ways of presentation. The best thing is to build a big model, because in a model you can make three blocks for one block and then make changes and explain to people that there are different possibilities, and that works very well. And, I think of course you should make a drawing, a system, make a vision, and build models for that. But the way you do it is very different in all kinds of vision, fixed vision and all kinds of changeable vision.
The problem is we are now in a time in Europe; we have the 70’s when everybody was against everything, so nothing happened. Then we have the 80’s when everybody said; “Hippie’s days passed, and now we’re going to do business”, everything was like mysterious things. Then in 90 they discovered, that there was so much legislation, and political procedures, so they could not do that in the 60’s, they had to connect the people to the city and blend. And, so, if I would characterize our attitude against the design now, about such a project, I would say; “This is a bad project, you should forget about it.” I would be a Don Quixote.
If I had said; “Yes, ok, I also want to do it”, I would be the kind of architect who only thinks himself.
But as a contemporary urbanist, I would say “Oh yes, if we’re going to build it, let’s use the economic force, and we should then canalize these forces into more sustainable projects than to one that will be dead”. This is the difference.
ÖK: Turkey did not have so many experiences in large-scale urban transformation. How does it operate in Europe, for instance in the large areas, and how is the program fixed? Who gives the program? Is it the government or is there a special commission formed by the private investors and the government? How is it working?
KC: Mostly there is a development corporation which has representatives of the city, developers, architects, investors and cultural institutions, they’re making a kind of concept program and concept scenario, and during the invitation, this is continuously tested also by real estate agents. So in that term, a project like in Hambourg, in the harbour, is monitored all the time and changed all the time. But there, for instance, in the Netherlands, are very famous, they are just making a housing program and the building is ready.
I think a very good example is the city of Bilbao; because they also have a corporation: the director of the museum, the mayor, the director of the electricity and water works and the director of the metro and trainway company, big industries… They are sent from the state and these people together make development scenarios or economic or cultural hospitalization, together they work toward one goal, and you see that they’re very successful. And, everybody thinks that the cost of the development of Bilbao is about one billion Euros, and everybody thinks that it has been paid by the EU, but less than %10 was paid by the EU, most of it they financed themselves over loans of the government that they paid later.
I think, there are a lot of great things in Turkey. As an example, there are lots of international companies. In that respect, these people have to get rid of them they have to get revenues and I think it would be ideal if there were convenient conditions in which people could start to develop. It needs a good regulation of investment.
GŞ: You are defining three classifications for urban areas: Branding, relaxing and waiting lands. Which is more suitable for Haydarpaşa port?
KC: I think it is maybe an official waterfront project; because it is considered as very representative (?) politically.
GŞ: So it is a branding land?
KC: Yes I think so. It sounds bad but I don’t think that it’s necessarily bad; it depends on how you do it.
ŞY: I have a last question. We had an interview with Micheal Sorkin and what he mentioned was very similar to your idea of “archipelago”. He was also saying that to sustain city life which will be the reality of the next century we have to live in smaller cities. We have to focus on smaller cities with less population. So in other words, we have to divide the cities into parts or have to create smaller cities, it reminded me of your “archipelago” proposal, which is very convincing and sustainable, but I have one question about the social dynamic of this approach. When you create an “archipelago” or “smaller city” you are creating, a different city which is connected to the city itself. Like, in the Dutch example, you have different types of settlements which are connected to the city of Amsterdam or in the housing example. What do you think about the cohesion of the city image or city identity with the concept of the “Archipelago” smallest city concept? Do you think that it has a direct contribution to the city’s identity itself or it is weakening the city’s image?
KC: No, this “archipelago” identity is very much meant as an identity which is not presuming that the islands are too independent. But that the islands together form a hierarchical system in which the old centre is the most important one. And, I think that is the difference with the so-called periphery people who think that all these islands can be completely different and fragmented having nothing to do with each other. , I showed the concept of Helsinki because it is the concept that the islands have their position but at the same time they are contributing organs to the organism as a whole, in which the central city is the most important part and I think that’s very important because many classical urbanists provoked the compact city and many of the peripherals provoked the disintegration of the city but the factor we look, for instance, that’s unique in Amsterdam, also probably in Istanbul, you see that some places are focal, the most important, like here this area of Taksim is the centre of agglomeration. The agglomeration is divided into a lot of different hills and islands, but they all have a certain position and relation to the centre. And I think you should develop this idea of an archipelago about this hierarchy, not in the idea of isolation.
ŞY: So, what you mean is not defining something new, but, redefining something which already exists, like to look at Istanbul’s hierarchy, it’s been the centres, valleys and the hills and define a new concept out of that.
KC: Yes, exactly.
ŞY: So, in that way, it will be something contributing to the city, it won’t be something disintegrating.
KC: So it is going to probably announce the identification too.
GŞ: You are defining KCAP as a non-ideological group. What do you mean by “being ideological”?
KC: We are not ideological…Well, I’ve always had a big difficulty with the word “ideological” because that’s very much the 70’s. The most characterized thing which people say is that we are radical pragmatists. In a way, it is true because we do not first build up a theory of urbanism and then implement it in the city but we write our theme from the practical work in the city. And, in that respect, we could say that we are not so ideological.
ÖK: Would you like to be ideological?
KC: No. But, I think that our attitude is extremely clear. I think we are very generative, almost maybe biomorphical. We look to biological analogies very much and also realize that we should not take them too seriously.
ÖK: But, I mean if you compare urban planners to architects, architects much more depend on archaeology and theory…
KC: Yes, this is a very good question. I think that you can not become a good urban designer if you are not an architect. There are very few examples of very good urban designers who are not architects, and whose educations are not based on architecture. Same time, if you finally work on urban designs, you can discover that it is a completely different type of work than designing buildings. Because let’s say, the architect works within the aesthetics of his fine taste whereas the urban designer works with everybody’s bad taste. You are the coordinate of everybody’s bad taste, which is also very aesthetical. But, that’s a very big difference. So, we are working like a film scenario writer or a film director rather than an architect because we work with historical, heterogenical components living in that material, whereas the architect is working within the logic of his aesthetics. Of course, he’s talking to his clients about the program. But all is being in one style in the end.
ÖK: And, you have to invent a scheme where you can also intervene in the architect’s ego and all his taste.
KC: Yes. Our job is to be able to let certain architects flourish in those qualities within the urban scheme. It depends on the kind of urban scheme that you make. Whether the architects can freak out completely in their taste you can put Kollhoff, Krier and Koolhas in one scheme or they should be more coherent. You can turn on these buttons.
ÖK: Do you think that urban planning education is a bit separated from the education in architecture in Turkey?
KC: I don’t know.
ŞY: People look down on it. People who go to get an urban planning education are the ones who mostly the ones who wanted to get into architecture programs but do not get enough points. It’s very tragic but it’s the case. So, that’s why we don’t have very effective and good urban designers. People don’t see that like…
KC: It’s a bit like everywhere. The original urban design discipline is very much based on the planning discipline which is mostly people who can not design at all. The best urban designs still have been made by architects.
GŞ: What do you think about the architecture education system in Holland?
KC: Well, I’m teaching in Zurich. I think the School of Architecture in Holland, at this moment, is not in very good condition.
ŞY: And, also I think that the architectural setting is not doing that well. They have this kind of hesitation. The government has cut the subsidies for experimental work. And, the smaller offices are struggling. And, now the big Dutch architects are all over the world working away. And, I have read in an article, that the younger generation who has graduated recently is under an identity problem.
KC: That’s true. I think their education is not very bad; there are very good schools like in Europe. DTH is a very good one, that’s why I went there. And, DAA is also quite good. Also in Germany, there are some good ones and in that average quality, in Delft, they are not bad but they are also not very good.
ŞY: They don’t have distinctive kind of…
KC: No, not any more. I studied in Delft. I was taught by Bekamaa, Koolhaas, and Jan Rietveld and that was a really good time.
GŞ: You did work with OMA, didn’t you?
KC: Yes, I was the director of OMA, from 1980 to 1988. But as you know, Rem Koolhaas was my teacher, and I had to choose to be always number two or three or want to do it by myself…
ÖK: What do you think about the new project, the new master plan?
KC: It’s not so good.
ÖK: Not working?
KC: No. It’s not working.
ŞY: I have a personal question. What do you think about Team 10?
KC: Team 10! I love it.
ŞY: Because I have sensed it, you know, with your approach of the streetscape etc. It reminded me of Team 10…
KC: Yes, I love it. I think they have done very good work. And of course, you have these fashion cycles. I think some of their work will come back, or probably it is coming back in now; because they are very current.
ŞY: They somehow succeeded in avoiding all the ideological discussions and kept their practical work…
KC: Yes, I agree.
GŞ: Our perception of the world is changing; territorial states are disappearing and the cities are getting more important than the countries. What do you think about the contemporary cities and their boundaries?
OK: Big question.
KC: I am not the prophet, you know. But I agree that let’s say, travelling becomes easier, the international intellectual lifestyle becomes more connected and interactive, which is very good for the announcement of the local culture and it leads to situations where boundaries become a little bit less important and regions become more important, that you have already seen in Europe. Collaborations between the part of Gutenberg and the German part of Switzerland are a good example of this.
You have all kinds of things related to that. I think that is very beautiful. I am always in favour of Turkey to join the EU. I think that’s very necessary. Because, if that does not happen, then, we will have a very strong gap between the West and the Moslem East. I think Turkey is the key country in peace-making on a global scale in this situation. In that sense, I am really in favour of a very transparent and connected relationship between Turkey and Europe.
GŞ: I heard that most people want Turkey to join the EU because of the military that we have.
OK: And because of our population.
GŞ: Yes, our huge and young population.
KC: In Europe, there is a lot of xenophobia because of Al-Kaida. And because of the Moslem fundamentalism is also generated in European cities. The problem is that Europeans are not religious so churches are abandoned, and in their places come mosques. People are afraid. I think this is xenophobism which is dangerous. Turkey is a disciplined country, of course, there are problems but, it’s relatively disciplined and transparent in relationship to other Eastern Countries. And in that respect, it would be a mistake to cut this connection.
ÖK: I always believe that Turkey is known by only Istanbul. When we think about investment and other things, there is a large portion of Turkey which is very abandoned. Turkey hasn’t found its way to investigating smaller cities around Anatolia yet. So there is going to be, I think, a decentralization away from Istanbul.
KC: I think Turkey can be compared quite well with Spain; because Spain was a dictatorship till 1980 and then, against every expectation, the young king started to democratize. There is the same situation which is also in Madrid, where there is artificial capital in the middle of the country. You have Barcelona which is Istanbul, which is lively, vivid, big cosmopolitan economic factor. And then you have the coast which is tourist motor, and you have the inland which is more or less rural. In that relationship, it’s quite comparable. Because of the good condition of the Turkish economy, in the next few years, you can also expect a development that is similar to the development in Spain. And, that would be of course ideal.
ÖK: The similarity between Turkey and Spain is also regionalism, that’s similar too…
KC: Yes exactly, that is also similar.
ŞY: Also, I think although we do not have enough investment opportunities, Turkey has a big potential for investment, in different parts of the country, using agriculture and different industries. Every region has its way of supporting itself. If the right kind of investment goes there, I think, it will be fine.
ÖK: Investors from Europe come to Istanbul, not to Anatolia, it is much further and much more forgettable, I think. Ok, thank you very much.
KC: You’re welcome.
GŞ: One more question: Which sounds do you hear most when you hear Turkish?
KC: Which sounds? Uhmm…I think the “u” and the “s”.
GŞ: Ok, thank you.
Editing: Melis Nur İhtiyar