Sunday, January 2, 2011

Polycentric Urban Development and Istanbul

by Aksel Ersoy


As the largest multifunctional metropolis in Turkey, Istanbul has been affected by global development trends as well as local demands. The geographical proximity to the different regions such as Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and the former Soviet Republics makes Istanbul strategically important in global interactions. Istanbul, with its geographical position connecting Asia and Europe, not only offers important advantages to global capital but also poses challenges in terms of uneven money accumulation and spatial development. Especially after the 1980s, policies were intended to renew economic growth on the basis of an export oriented strategy. With the combination of an export push and foreign capital inflows, new reforms were introduced in many areas such as trade policy1. The new economic policy, therefore, shifted from a heavily regulated and controlled mixed economy to the neoliberal idea of a “free market economy”. In addition, there was a shift of public investment from manufacturing to infrastructural activities such as transport, communications and energy due to the complementary role of private sector activities in the post 1980 period. All these attempts have resulted in different types of agglomeration in the city. Meanwhile, at the European level, rapid decentralization of economic activities, increased mobility due to new transport technologies, complex travel patterns, fragmentation of spatial distribution of activities and changes in our lifestyle have become important issues in defining the new urban structure of cities. In order to control the uneven development of European territory, the policy idea of polycentric urban development has been introduced in 1999. The objective of this paper is to understand if and how this policy idea would be implemented in the case of Istanbul.

Istanbul, image by Garton
Istanbul, image by watchsmart

More posts on the urban form of Istanbul and other metropolises:


The Production of Urban Space in Vietnam’s Metropolis in the course of Transition: Internationalization, Polarization and Newly Emerging Lifestyles in Vietnamese Society

Different Sprawl Patterns in the U.S. Cities

San Francisco’s Big Plan: The Eastern Neighborhoods

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