Commodification of Urban Space and the Image of ‘New’ Istanbul

Decoding the prevailing discourse




city, urbanism, new İstanbul, commodification of space, role of architecture, ideology, transformation


This study aims to identify the urban transformation strategy implemented in Istanbul for the last 15 years as a tool to promote the ‘new’ city discourse. This marking strategy leads to a thoroughly manipulated or re-written urban texture, constructed through concepts of identity, context and historicism. By decoding its actors, their roles, and branding images of five selected urban projects which relied on a top-down approach, the research exposes the implicit and explicit targets behind the political discourse of ‘new’ İstanbul. Through a qualitative content analysis of branding images and promotional media, the research focuses on the unseen agenda of the governing authority concerning the urban image and the state economy, which, on the contrary, undermines legitimate laws covering disaster mitigation. The conceptual framework of the study draws on Tafuri’s (1969) seminal article "Toward a Critique of Architectural Ideology" to deepen our examination of the leading forces of urban ideology that are reshaping the city. The article aims to spark a debate over the ‘new’ Istanbul discourse and its planning practices through its re-reading of urban projects, the field of architecture and planning, development strategies, and their relevant actors.

Author Biographies

Demet Mutman, Dr., Özyeğin University, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Turkey

Demet Mutman, after receiving her B.Arch degree from Eastern Mediterranean University Faculty of Architecture in 2000, obtained M.Arch degree from Uludağ University Faculty of Engineering and Architecture in 2003 under the supervision of Prof. Dr. N. Dostoğlu and completed her Ph.D. in Istanbul Technical University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. O. Hacıhasanoğlu in the year 2011. Mutman focuses mainly on urban space, public spaces, and alternative city readings, has worked in the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau in Germany from 2005 to 2008 on an alternative urban planning approach for the post-war city of Mostar together with W. Hackenbroich, M. Kuc, K. Vöckler, and in 2008 she had been part of the curatorial team with U. Achternkampf and A. Baltchun of the international Archilab Orleans exhibition 'Archilab Europe Strategic Architecture' in France. She was the project coordinator of the Urban Age Award İstanbul in 2009, which is a joint project of the London School of Economics and the Deutsche Bank. She is the author of the 'Istanbul' section of the book 'Handmade Urbanism', published in 2013 by Jovis Verlag, on which the book focused on five Urban Age Award Project cities and local initiatives. Mutman and A. Mussche, have a jury special prize from the Ares International Competition for Renewable Energy Sources & Bioclimatic Architecture for Shells to shelter People affected by Natural Disasters of UIA Torino meeting of the year 2007. Dr. Mutman currently teaches at the Ozyegin University Faculty of Architecture on Architectural Design, Urban design principles whilst holding researches on alternative city reads, transforming understanding of the public spheres and architectural design education.

Derya Yorgancioğlu, Dr., Özyeğin University, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Turkey

Dr. Yorgancıoğlu obtained her B.Arch. from Yıldız Technical University, Department of Architecture in 2000, M. Arch. in Architecture from Middle East Technical University in 2004, and Ph.D. in Architecture from Middle East Technical University in 2010. She worked as research student at the Unit for Strategy Development in Education and Research, of the Research and Implementation Centre for Built Environment and Design (RICBED) of METU Faculty of Architecture between 2006-2010. After completing her Ph.D., she joined İstanbul Kemerburgaz University, Department of Architecture in 2011 where she coordinated the establishment of the Department as Chairperson and worked until 2017. Dr. Yorgancıoğlu conducted research studies at Queen’s University of Belfast, Center for Educational Development (CED) as an invited researcher in 2017. Her areas of specialty are in the fields of theory and research in architecture, architectural design, architectural education, architecture-phenomenology relationality, learning space design, scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education, architecture and children studies. She is currently teaching at the Ozyegin University Faculty of Architecture on Basic Design principles, body and space design and holding researches on the architectural design education.



How to Cite

MUTMAN, D., & Yorgancioğlu, D. (2021). Commodification of Urban Space and the Image of ‘New’ Istanbul: Decoding the prevailing discourse. Ekistics and The New Habitat, 80(1), 82–93.