Since 1985, several sites within the historic centre of Istanbul have been inscribed as the UNESCO World Heritage property Historic Areas of Istanbul. Integrated management, including tourism and visitor management, has become of vital importance to Istanbul as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
The beginning of the 2000s brought about changes to the city’s urban policy and legislation, including a new framework with a direct effect on urban renewal projects and the cultural life of the city. The city’s current municipal laws introduced in 2004 and 2005 have expanded the jurisdiction of the greater municipality, thus giving it control of the district municipalities. The Law for the Protection of Dilapidated Historical and Cultural Real Estate Through Protection by Renewal (no. 5366) was passed in 2005, together with further laws aimed at enabling the urban transformation of the city by giving the municipalities the authority to implement urban redesign projects without having to face the standard regulations in the legal system. Concurrently, it has facilitated the establishment of partnerships and collaboration between municipalities and private companies, which has sometimes led to the approval of ‘mega-projects’. Urban mega-projects in Istanbul have met with substantial public criticism. Some groups have contested the projects, alleging that the projects exacerbate socio-economic inequalities, that the public are not involved in the decision-making processes, and the majority does not benefit from them. In 2013, plans to build a large-scale shopping complex at Gezi Park were halted following massive public protests.
The shifts in policy and legislative frameworks have also sparked grassroots arts initiatives, along with partnerships between civil society, non-profit organizations and cultural associations across the city. This has served to broaden the cultural offer and develop the creative industries in the city, such as through adaptive reuse of abandoned buildings for the arts, developing mixed-use spaces for creators, and building creative cooperatives.
Source: IUAV, report for Study Area 3