Analysing the sustainability of Istanbul’s Urban Transformation Projects: The Impact on Gecekondu Communities
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For this study I carried out research looking into the social, economic and environmental sustainability of urban transformation projects of gecekondu communities (‘squatter settlements’) in Istanbul. In-depth interviews with open-ended questions were carried out with a range of stakeholders. These included academics within the field of urban transformation, activists involved in rights to the city and housing rights, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, a private urban transformation planner, local experts from all three of the main occupational chambers in Istanbul, and finally community leaders from different communities where urban transformation has taken place or is taking place. I approached this study using concepts of neoliberal urbanism and gentrification as these seemed to be the most important issues, and of course the sustainability assessment framework of urban transformation projects. The main focus of the results was on the social sustainability dimension as the biggest problems of gentrification, stakeholder participation, rights to the city were all social issues. Overall, the study concluded that neoliberal urbanism has played a significant role in shaping urban transformation projects and along with the dynamics of the political system within Turkey, UT projects have been unsuccessful in promoting social, economic and environmental sustainability for gecekondu communities.