Elif Simge Fettahoğlu is a PhD candidate at Istanbul Technical University. She holds Master of Architecture degree from Istanbul Bilgi University Architectural Design Masters’ Program (2009). She was a Research Assistant at Istanbul Bilgi University Faculty of Architecture, attending courses on social, cultural and historical aspects of Urbanism and Architecture. Assistant Curator in the exhibition “Istanbul :1910-2010: City, Built Environment and Architecture” (2010). She has overseen aspects of research, scenography and content production in exhibitionsas an Associate in Tabanlıoğlu Architects. Currently she is working in Munich Technical University as a Research Associate in the Chair of Urban Design.
Aspects of urbanism, landscape and geography extending into visualisation and mapping.
Today, the North of Istanbul is undergoing a pervasive change due to infrastructural developments, real estate investments and dominant governance principles where the rural/urban dichotomy is revoked. As outskirts of the city sprawl grow, the new territories become more bounded and re-shaped through extensive infrastructure and large-scale projects, the Istanbul New Airport (INA) in particular. Nicknamed as ‘the greatest project of Turkey’, ‘one of the world’s largest aviation centre projects’ and the ‘largest airport terminal under one roof’, INA was inaugurated -albeit partially- on the symbolic date of the 96th anniversary of the Republic, October 29th, 2018, aiming to raise Istanbul's position to a global hub singlehandedly, with a capacity of 200 Million passengers per year.
Located in the peripheries of North-Western Istanbul, 40 km away from the centre, the Istanbul Airport site rests on ecologically significant zones and corridors. The connecting infrastructure, namely 3rd Bridge and the Northern Marmara Highway; and prospective Mega-Projects like the 'Kanal İstanbul' and 'New İstanbul'; make the Airport project central to the future of Istanbul in its claim to be positioned as a global hub city. The Mega-Projects scheme, brought by top down decision-making processes also indicate an inherent reversal of the macroform from south-bound to north-bound nature by opening up development corridors into the natural resources and ecological support systems of the urban system. But on the other hand, they direct the urban development away from the main fault-line, the bane of the city.
Within this frame, the dissertation entitled "Airports as Interscalar Hybrid Grounds Between Landscape, Infrastructure and Architecture: The Case of Istanbul Airport" undertaken in Istanbul Technical University aims to unveil the complex and multi-scalar dynamics in the establishment of Istanbul Airport, and place it within the current debates surrounding airport terminals, airport landscapes and airport-led urbanism. . Throughout its history of late; the city of Istanbul has found ways to cope with, and show resilience against the pressing issues of overgrowth and lack of policies/economic resources through specific forms of informalities. This time, the impact of the mega-projects is open to interpretation as large-scale infrastructural interventions they are irreversible in nature, due to their location they indicate a depletion of the natural resources and also are bound to create uncontrollable growth through new development axes. And the highly polarized socio-political atmosphere makes it almost impossible to open new discussion grounds where these projects can be debated publicly with their impacts, effects and potentials, especially in spatial terms, and within the terminology of such disciplines.
Research goals reflect that void, and instead of an inherently critical approach, tries to understand and reflect on multi-faceted realities that brought up the project; and ponders on how to place it within trans-scalar spatial ground. Here, the conceptualization beginning from the Airport Terminal to Airport Site, to Airport Landscapes and then to Airport-led urbanism defines a frame. In order to analyse the 'overgrown' airport in spatial terms, and its wider effects, the thesis works on the theoretical hybrid ground between 'infrastructure, landscape and architecture' within the realm of urbanism. The main goal, thus define and position the project, through a distanced position, and based on that re-establish the critical ground, a learned stance at that, through mappings and representations towards the past, to present and future.
The methodology, takes the Istanbul Airport as the central case, and taking the literature review as a basis, extends the study axes from the case itself. The framework is defined as studying airports as nodes of hyperconnectivity in the global spaces of flows, as urban mega projects, as interscalar landscapes, finally as of their own entities, by investigating architectural and spatial qualities of airport terminal to the fore. Following the depiction and overview of 'spaces of aeromobilities'; the study then investigates Istanbul Airport parallel to the layers depicted above. Finally, through critical mapping as a tool defines the multi-scalar nature of the project with the position of an architect in depicting the spatial realities that existed, is now emerging and will emerge.