TAKSİM PLATFORM: PRESS RELEASE AND SIGNATURE PETITION - JANUARY 2011
What Does the Recently Proposed Taksim Project Involve?
The recently proposed Taksim Project calls for the construction of enormous ramps --10 meters deep and 100 meters long-- leading to subterranean tunnels directing traffic under Taksim Square. The ramps will be located at seven points near the square, including Gümüşsuyu, Sıraselviler, Mete, Tarlabaşı, and Cumhuriyet Boulevards. High concrete walls will be erected, and the existing sidewalks along the boulevards will be transformed into service roads. The trees in the vicinity will be cut down, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to reach Taksim Square by foot. Underground tunnels will not solve the problems of urban transportation and traffic. Urban planners throughout the developed world have long since discredited them.
THE TAKSİM PROJECT IS NOT ABOUT MAKING THE SQUARE MORE PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY (despite claims otherwise)
How Was the Project Passed through Official Channels?
The present plans for Taksim Square were announced by the Prime Minister before the elections. The Istanbul Greater Metropolitan Parliament then approved them by vote, after which the Istanbul No. 2 Regional Agency for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites passed the bill with speed unprecedented for a “reconstruction project.”
Despite being a public initiative financed by city taxes, residents of the city and civic organizations have not been informed of, nor consulted about, the details of the project. The Metropolitan government has not provided any means for public discussion. It continues to ignore the voices of various groups and individuals who have the expertise to evaluate the effects this project will have on the urban fabric of Taksim.
THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN PLANNING AND PASSING THIS PROJECT VIOLATES EVERY PRINCIPLE OF PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY
What Do We Want?
We want transparency and the opportunity for input in the redesign of Taksim Square. Urban development plans should take into consideration those residing in nearby neighborhoods as well as those who work in and visit the area. Transportation projects should not be planned by decree from above, nor in isolation from their environment and residents. The latest holistic approaches need to be taken into consideration during the design of transportation systems, viewing them as part of the overall urban fabric.
As the highest-profile and most symbolic square in Turkey, Taksim Square means many things to people of many different walks of life. Democratic participation in deciding how to design and use this public space is just as important as it is in rewriting the Constitution.
The days of reckless urban development and planning without public consultation are long over. It’s time to do things differently. Let’s start with Taksim Square. Let’s join together and make this an example of how city officials can successfully work in conjunction with civic groups and citizens for a better designed city space for everyone.
We call upon the city officials of Istanbul to serve their constituents in a transparent and democratic way.
Taksim belongs to all of us!