- The strategic Importance of Studies with numerous Actors within the Frame of designating the Future of historical Centers: İzmir City Kemeraltı Bazaar Case    click here to open paper content434 kb
by    Altınörs Çırak, Aysegül & Yörür, Neriman | aysegul.altinors@deu.edu.tr   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper aims to discuss the strategic role of current projects that are applied to the historical City Centre of Izmir City Kemeraltı Bazaar, as well as the activities of the actors and the dimension of their participation.
With its 8000 years of recorded history, İzmir has been one of the most important historical cities of the Aegean Region. Particularly with its unique geographical and geopolitical location, İzmir could have the possibility of managing the peculiarity of being one of the most active and significant cities. Its developing trade and changing industry because of its harbor have influenced the increase of immigration since the 1950s; thus growing day by day it has been a metropolitan city center. The same period witnessed the changes in the social structure of the city; such that the Levantine, Rum (Greek of Turkish citizenship), and Jewish inhabitants commenced to abandon İzmir. However, the reflections of multi-cultural life style of the past and its accumulations could still be traced on the recent city culture. As the third metropolitan city of the developing country of Turkey, İzmir has encountered the problem of losing its – especially historical – values in consequence of the recent modern/capitalist urbanization processes. Trade activity in Kemeraltı Bazaar has been quite active in all periods; yet, a number of building having historical values have lost some of their original qualifications while they have been transformed in accordance with the function of modern trade. Although traditional-nostalgic shopping activities for all inhabitants of the city and touristic character of the bazaar have continued till today; the area proper recently became a shopping place generally for middleclass and lower-middle class citizens.

The housing district, which had mostly been inhabited by the Turkish citizens during the Ottoman Period, is located nearby the historical Kemeraltı Bazaar that has been the city center since the ancient times. In the course of time, it has become an area that the old dwellers abandoned and the new social group of immigrants has been settled. Having the poor groups of people that came with migration, the district not only places just behind the city center; but also houses the most important archaeological heritage. The biggest agora as well as most of the other elements of an ancient city within the Aegean Region place within this quarter. Yet, the excavations and the studies proper have been difficult due to the fact that these archaeological traces had been covered with the historical city fabric of the Ottoman Period, which has also the authentic socio-spatial value itself. Being the most active area of the city, Kemeraltı has a continuous transformation with respect to the developments within the city. For instance, at the eastern part of Kemeraltı District, the “shoe-makers’ small production area”, which had been located between the residential area and market place, was emptied during the 1990s. However, there have been no new functions attributed for this area. Therefore, it has been a vacant and derelict place. This historical city center houses not only the archaeological traces, residential and commercial fabric having a historical significance, mosques and synagogues, historical inns and hotels; but also the existing buildings of the Metropolitan Municipality and the Governorship of İzmir. It is a fact that the future of area that has still been a commercial and administrative center is ambiguous, and the historical characteristics are lost day by day. This situation makes the local governments, non-governmental organizations, and professional organizations concentrate on the area. It could be boldly stated that this interest has a bidirectional character: On the one hand, after a number of misapplication, it is recently started to be realized that the ‘historical’, having a unique value and information, is very significant document for the public. On the other hand, with the increasing emphasis on the ‘historical one’ developed throughout the recent post-modern discourses, conservation turns out to be a fashion on the axis of commerce and ‘nostalgia-dependent-tourism’; as its economical value becomes more and more significant.

These studies have a strategic meaning for the whole city. Throughout larger scale studies, it has been intended not only to redevelop the city center in another area (Bayraklı – Turan District, just behind the İzmir Harbor); but also to preserve the relieved historical city center while renovating it by means of cultural and touristic activities. For realizing the statement of “İzmir, the city of fairs and congresses”, declared by local governments and non-governmental organizations, Kemeraltı District has a strategic meaning with respect to its attractive and authentic character within the city. That’s why; the city authorities debate on the future of Kemeraltı in terms of its spatial, economic, and social dimensions, and try to develop proposals concerning the area.
Since December of 2002, there have been a number of studies on the planning of Kemeraltı District of İzmir - Konak Municipality. At the same time, Historical Sites Conservation Department, constituted within the structure of the Municipality of İzmir Greater City, started the studies required with the help of local governments. Within the scope of these studies, it is first intended to prepare Conservation Plan, having two stages for meeting the new requirements. As the first stage of the Kemeraltı Study - prepared by Dokuz Eylül University, Department of City Planning – has become valid. Konak Metropolitan County Municipality is still studying on the second stage. As it is almost impossible to intervene in the whole district of Kemeraltı, some strategic points and areas, having the potential of activating and encouraging, are defined to reach a complete rehabilitation over the whole area. Local governments and authorities from the universities proposed some specific urban designs and renewal and restoration of historical building facade studies on the areas that they determined. During the course of these studies, local government developed a kind of ‘model’ intended to obtain the participations of tradesmen and the public nearby. Within the frame of this model, historical Alipaşa Square has been decided as the first ‘urban design area’. Its urban design and façade renovation studies have been conducted consistent with the Kemeraltı District 1st Stage Implementation Plan decisions. After this project has been accepted as ‘successful’ by the local government; a similar project, focused on the historical Hotels Street at Basmane District, has been realized. The experience gained from these two projects resulted simultaneously in other studies for Kemeraltı Abacıoğlu Inn, 926 Street that had been the derelict area of shoemakers, and Kestelli Avenues. It is proposed to reach a spatial and cultural integrity; when the projects, executed by the coordination of Konak Municipality and İzmir Metropolitan Municipality are completed. The studies of Konak Municipality on Abacıoğlu Inn, 926 Street, and Kestelli Avenue, for which Izmir Chamber of Commerce has been the sponsor, have been continuing. Izmir Chamber of Commerce had also supported the excavation studies of the antique agora during this period. It has also initiated a project for the inclusion of the area into the UNESCO World Heritage List. A non-governmental organization, called Kemeraltı Non-Governmental Organizatio, has been founded with the participation of the Kemeraltı inhabitants. It has a significant role on the way to give some responsibilities to the inhabitants of the area. For instance, this organization organized Kemeraltı Symposium in October 2006.

The studies on the city center that has been a strategic meaning should be within the concern of the whole citizens of İzmir. The direct participations of local governments, non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, and universities raise the value of Kemeraltı Studies. Especially within the context of Turkey, it is quite rare to meet such kind of projects with the participation of several actors. This paper will debate on the role of Kemeraltı within the city of İzmir and a supra-discourse on it; the participation model appropriated to the areas by the local governments; the attitudes of actors participated into the studies; and the strategic meaning of the project with respect to the past, today and the future. Moreover, the subsequent steps on the way to accomplish the successful practices will be related to the Turkish urbanization and conservation practice. This relation will also be discussed; as its social and economical dimensions will be evaluated in terms of citizens.
historical center, strategic project, İzmir Kemeralti Bazaar
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