(October 2012) SEEKING RESILIENCE IN THE FUTURE OF TURKISH CITIES: WHAT CAN THE UPCOMING ‘URBAN REGENERATION WAVE’ BRING?
By adopting a critical approach to the concept of resilience, the main purpose of this paper is to explore if and where one can find resilience in the future of Turkish cities. This will be done by dwelling on two possible dimensions of the concept of resilience: the capacity to cope with natural hazards (in particular the earthquake for the Turkish case) and the capacity to effectively respond to the changing conditions of the global economy. In this regard, the recently launched huge (urban) transformation wave regarding the disaster-prone areas (law numbered 6306 forms the legal basis) initiated by the current Turkish government after the Van earthquake (2011) will be evaluated. This evaluation will basically include an elaboration on its motives and possible consequences as well as the outcomes of some urban regeneration projects/ urban transformation processes from İstanbul and Bursa.
In the post- crisis period after the 2001 economic crisis in Turkey, there are continuing attempts for integrating the country to the global financial and real estate markets and vitalizing the construction sector as a part of the current economic (recovery) program. In this sense, basic argument of the paper is that under such conditions there is a high likelihood that the aim of rendering cities resilient is more about developing urban policies which may serve to the changing requirements of investments rather than adopting a transformation perspective for urban areas which incorporates comprehensive vulnerability assessments and targets liveable environments for the entire urban population. The study will mainly rely on secondary sources of qualitative and quantitative data while examples from Bursa case will incorporate the findings of semi-structured interviews made with urban planners. Since a more qualitative research approach is adopted for the paper most of the secondary data will be obtained from legal documents, development plans and newspaper archives.