An international design contest has been launched to rethink Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey
The two-stage competition invites architects, urban planners, urban designers and project managers to draw up ‘functional and innovative’ concepts to overhaul the prominent plaza and the neighbouring Taksim Gazi Park which was at the centre of major protests seven years ago.
It is part of a series of competitions, dubbed Istanbul Is Yours, aimed at upgrading public spaces throughout the historic city which is today home to 16 million inhabitants but lacks quality green spaces. It is being organised by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Department of Cultural Assets and Conservation.
In its brief, the department says: ‘Public spaces must be lively, accessible, free, cheerful, peaceful and secure places where people can breathe and form democratic and social relationships. The Taksim Urban Design Competition aims to develop solutions for the problems at one of the major public spaces of Istanbul.
‘In tackling this problem, the competition endeavours to highlight economical, original and qualified design approaches as well as functional and innovative solutions that could provide insights into today’s architecture, identify project authors and projects with a contemporary, environmental and architectural approach, promote fine arts and related professions, reinforce ethical values, and provide architectural teams with an environment suitable for the acquisition of international competitiveness.’
Taksim Square, in the city’s Beyoglu districts is the cultural and symbolic centre of modern Turkey, featuring the Republic Monument commemorating the country’s creation in 1923 and the main train station of Istanbul.
Controversial plans to regenerate the square and reconstruct an Ottoman-era barracks on neighbouring Taksim Gezi Park were vetoed by a local court in 2013. The Topçu Barracks project was the focus of protests which occupied the area for months resulting in thousands of injuries and several deaths.
The competition seeks proposals that respect the area’s unique history and symbolism while transforming it into a space for ‘quality of urban life, intensity and comfort’ which ‘embraces all sections of society.’ Proposals should include public art, street furniture and new green elements.
Twenty teams will each receive €5,000 to participate in the second phase of the competition. Three overall winners will be announced on 22 August, each receiving €50,000, while five honourable mentions worth €10,000 each will also be awarded.
Judges will include Turkish historian Zeynep Ahunbay; İpek Akpınar Aksugür from the architecture faculty at Izmir Institute of Technology; Can Kubin, urban planner at PROMIN; Arzu Nuhoğlu of Arzu Nuhoğlu Landscape Design; and Rainer Schmidt of Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects.
The competition language is English and there is a €50 fee for applications. Teams applying for the first round must include at least one locally registered architect, urban planner or landscape architect.
The deadline for submission is 5 June.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality
Department of Cultural Assets Conservation
Tel: +90 (212) 449 4000