Bridge City

Curated by Maurizio Bortolotti the Haliç Center is on display at the main hall of the Galata Greek School as a special project within Adhocracy Exhibition and as homage to Yona Friedman, from whose work the exhibition draws inspiration. Friedman’s first installation for the city of Istanbul, the Haliç Center, inscribes itself in Friedman’s general understanding of mega cities as knots of communication inside continents, beyond 19th century concepts of national identities and boundaries. Since Friedman’s work is inextricably linked to communication, the Haliç Center has been conceived as a platform where a few artists and architects — Tomás Saraceno, Boğaçhan Dündaralp , Ömer Kanipak, Cevdet Erek and Gabriele Basilico — are invited to dialogue with Friedman’s intervention.

Ömer Kanıpak’s Intervention “The Bridge City”

“The city, as a mechanism, is thus nothing other than a labyrinth : a configuration of points of departure, and terminal points, separated by obstacles”. Yona Friedman, Architecture Mobile, 1960
Galata Bridge connects the two most important commercial hubs of old Istanbul and it’s more than a mere bridge allowing vehicles and pedestrians to pass to the other side. It is one of the few “structures” in the world with a commercial and recreational life incorporated within. It is a mesmerizing urban instrument that is inhabited in different levels and scales in different times. The spaces underneath the upper deck carrying cars and tramway are divided into spacious units. The high renting fees forced these spaces to be occupied with only one function. All of these individual units are inhabited by fish restaurants serving almost the same quality food and drinks. However, the way each restaurant occupies and decorates its space varies immensely making the bridge a vibrant and heterogeneous mixture. The flexibility of human interventions and improvisations presented even in such a rigid structure reveal the common people’s ability to shape the built environment in unexpectedly creative ways as Yona Friedman appreciate. It may easily be argued that Friedman’s “mobile architecture” and “spatial city” theories are almost embodied in Galata Bridge.

The bridge has around 40 independent restaurants on both sides and together with the shifting staff it is a working environment for almost 600 to 800 people. This number increases over a thousand with the addition of amateur fishermen and street vendors located on the upper deck of the bridge. This project aims to create the map of the inhabitants of the Galata Bridge; representing their routes between their homes and the bridge.


Interviews: Kübra Aygör, Berk Büyükyanbolu, Deha Koygun, Ahmet Makca
Mapping: Özgün Gürsürer
Project by Ömer Kanıpak | Architect | Istanbul, November 2012