2017/04/26 Author: Urban China
Think globally, act locally.
Urban China GloCal Insights Panel 2 met with over 60 audiences on the afternoon of March 4th.
How an Iranian ancient city have an European structure? Can vendors and store owners stay in harmony at the same street? How urban regeneration is affected by politics in an extreme way? Whether an ancient city could be stimulated by modern new projects?
Three speakers from Iran, Turkey and Italy, with four experienced architects as mentors, shared insights on the topic of Urban Regeneration.
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From Iran,PhD candidate,Architecture ,Shanghai Jiaotong University
My presentation will focus on Hamadan, one of the ancient cities in Iran, mainly on its evolution during about one hundred years. I’ll also do a case study of Bu- Ali Sina Street Regeneration which I was involved in. Hope we can get some conclusions of its design, decision making process and how the city reacted to the regeneration of the public realm.
Hamadan had a great history, used to be named as Ecbatana (place of assembly). It’s a mountainous city with a population of around 530,000 in 2011. The evolution of Hamadan city structure got a new start around 89 years ago when a German architect called Karl Fritsch came up with the idea that planning it with one central square and six main streets. The six grand streets divided the whole city into slides like dealing with a pizza. So after the evolution of around one hundred year, the structure of the city became centralized. All the rest of the city was designed simply based on the original design (the German one).
Hamadan 120 years ago
Evolution of Hamadan city structure
Bu- Ali Sina Street is one of the six streets. Before regeneration, it was similar to other five streets working as vehicle corridors with traffic limitation. It brings people to the central commercial part of the city but with only side pavements for walking.
So it was redesigned. I was involved in this new project of regeneration. Everything was doing very fast. Workers worked day and night to realize the design.
At first, people walking by just watched around but gradually when they started walking on this street, something social happened. The project became popular among the people as they wanted to know what’s going on. There were also feedbacks and comments coming from the people.
Participation of people
The project took six months and just finished two weeks ago when I was in Iran. After regeneration, a lot of social events happened in this place, religious, entertaining, political and commercial.
The street before change& The street after change
The new street as a public realm
But, in two weeks, there’s an issue showing up that peddlers slowly come to the street as well. A week ago, all the stores in the street closed just to show protest against the peddlers’ activities.
The project is totally new and to conclude it, I did a SWOT analysis on it:
There are four main elements should be considered in regeneration: transportation, commercial, visual and functional features. In this case, as for the commercial part, the peddlers affects stores, also the visual features.
Peddlers in the street
The stores closed to against peddlers
[ Q&A ]
Q: What do most common people think of the peddlers?
A: This is the issue I am actually working on and thinking about. Two weeks ago when I was there, I asked people about their opinions. More than 50% are satisfied with that as they can buy something cheaper they need.
Q: In other countries we saw in some streets, vendors are organized and allowed in some particular time (for example, weekends) for people’s practical use. I think these two (stores and peddlers) are not totally incompatible. I wonder whether it would find some ways to put together all types of economies.
A: Thank you for your suggestion. The project is quite new and the social events I mentioned are already organized. I can see this is coming that they will organize commercial events in the future.
From Turkey ,Master student,Architecture,Shanghai Jiaotong University
Turkey is between Asian and Europe, so it’s really diverse. Unlike many other Muslim country, Turkey is a secular country, it’s Republic of Turkey, parliamentary constitutional republic. Our president is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a very important man right now.
I have to talk about some political issues in Turkey because everything is determined by that now. We had the military coup at 15 July, 2016, after that, it’s very easy to change laws and do whatever the government like.
Since then, 2614 institutions were shut down including 35 health institutions, 1043 private education institutes, 15 universities, 1500 foundations, 5 new agencies, 16 TV channels, 24 radio stations, 62 newspapers, 19 magazines, 29 press, 19 unions, federations and confederations. Government employees who lost their jobs include 4078 in military, 18697 in police, 1826 in religious affairs, 3065 in ministry of internal affairs, 5526 in ministry of health, 30470 in ministry of education, 2534 in ministry of justice, 2147 in ministry of finance, 29953 teachers, 3839 professors, 201 students and much more from private sectors. Right now, in total 40,832 people were arrested, and they build many new prisons for that.
Military coup in Turkey
Everywhere in my country is demolished then rebuilt. I will focus on Istanbul,the ancient city with a population of around 15 million and several new projects which contradict with nature right, city right and citizen right happening there.
The first one is Galataport. This is the biggest port in Istanbul for transitions of products since very long time ago. There have been built some special warehouses for special products. But the two buildings were demolished this week at one night. The way they demolished them hurt other buildings and surroundings. What they want to build here now are a complex of shopping mall for entertainment, offices, another terminal and an aquarium.
The location of Galataport
The new plan for Galataport
The second one is the third bridge. We’ve already had two bridges and this one is claimed to be the biggest one. Why the bridge was a wrong decision? These are pictures showing the demolishment of forests when building the last two bridges. This time, other than forests, they will also touch water, which is the biggest water supply in Istanbul. Another project is the third airport. It hasn’t been finished but has caused the same problem as it’s located in forests.
Demolishment of forests after building the first two bridges
The third bridge and the water supply
The third airport in forests
Another topic I want to talk about is eviction. Sulukule, a settlement for Turkish Gypsy communities, hosted people living there for more than 50 years. In history, it was not very easy for everyone to move to Istanbul. So houses were built around Istanbul and people settled in the neighborhoods.With new regulations, they are forced to move out.
Another example is Tarlabasi, which is actually in the center of Istanbul with Turkish houses of characteristics built 100 years ago. People are also forced to move out and their apartments are to be destroyed.
Eviction regulation for Sulukule settlers
[ Q&A ]
Q: Are there any mechanisms or ways that people can resist or protest for the projects? For example, can they use legal measures or raise court for attention?
A: Many people are in jails, most are lawyers or judges. People are afraid of speaking out because the judges do not do their duties.
Q: What do common people think of the infrastructure projects?
A: There was a big protest but it was unsuccessful. The media is controlled so you can hear what the president say, not the people.
From Italy,Qualified architect,Six years of design experience,HDD Shanghai
I’ll first introduce a bit about features of construction in Italy.
Italy was rebuilt after World War II during a period of economic booming. It is worth to remember the INA-Casa Plan, a public residential housing project with almost 355,000 housing units built. As a side effect, significant migration flow from rural villages and small towns toward big cities created the current suburbs.
Furthermore, Italy is a seismic country, with rare exceptions. The issues of existing buildings are therefore the structural safety, the energy efficiency and the general quality.
After 2008, a persisting economic crisis deeply changed and downsized the construction activities in Italy. New property developments are rare. Present building stock is quite old and have passed averagely 40 years. So in general, cities suffer for the segregation of peripheries, the state of abandoned industrial areas, the loss of usefulness of public buildings.
Construction development history of Italy
However, In Milan, the industrial and business capital of Italy, there are some regeneration projects that I would like to talk about.
The first is“Porta Nuova Project”, located at the center of the city. In 1931 the old Central Railway Station was moved from here and just a part of it remained with the name Porta Nuova, known unofficially as Le Varesine. It was eventually closed in 1961 and the area was abandoned. After 2000, an American developer invested into a mixed-use project divided into three parts: Le Varesine, Garibaldi and Isola, with its wide public park not yet completed. In that case, three different neighborhoods were connected in this business and residential district. Porta Nuova project shows the importance of creating new functions in an urban regeneration project.
Porta Nouva as a railway station
Axonometric scheme of Porta Nuova Project
Porta Nuova Project as a mix-used project
The second case is"CityLife". The land was occupied by the Fiera Milano from 1920. In 2005, a new exhibition area opened making it purposeless. The land was renovated as a business district area inside a park, with three skyscrapers in the center. At the moment only the Allianz Tower designed by Arata Isozaki is finished. There are also two residential areas nearby. “CityLife” envisioned the renovation of Maspes-Vigorelli Velodrome, a building important in the history of Milan.
Architectural rendering of CityLife
Aerial view of Maspes-Vigorelli Velodrome
Other than that, what is happening now in Milan is a huge regeneration plan for seven railway yards. The plan is full of potential, still in its concept phase with Porta Nuova as a good precedent.
Location of the seven railway yards in Milan
Seven railway station yards in Milan
To conclude, I want to remark one main issue of Italy. Everything is slow. In addition, it is difficult to demolish and rebuild. There is the need for new regulations and for a system to speed all the procedures up. The construction sector may lead the country beyond the crisis.
[ Q&A ]
Q: I lived in Milan before. As to the new designed "Porta Nuova Project" you just mentioned which is indeed beautiful and nice but I failed to find any spirit in that area. How the new projects can be connected to the existing context of Italian public spaces?
A: In the"Porta Nuova project", the connection with the rest of the city is not easy mostly because of the topography, but the project tries to lead people into existing areas, like Corso Como. In general it is difficult to relate old and new.
Q: My question is about gentrification. Can the new development which is occupied or bought by rich foreign investors really gives citizens an experience of public space? I wonder if the government of Milan city has considered about that.
A: Gentrification is common in Italy. We have plans and studies attempting to solve the problem, but often it is complicated to put into practice. There is also a strong demand for a new INA-Casa Plan. Nowadays we must intensify what is inside the city, free the space and reuse what we have.
Q: You used the case of Milan, but what is your summary of logic that represents Italy?
A: Milan is the city of the business, then in these new developments there are headquarters of banks and organizations. Not just offices though, but people also live there. There is a mixture of functions. It is a good example of how to use the spirit of a city to build something modern.