Mid-Atlantic Popular &
American Culture Association

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Istanbul: The City of Urban Flux and Innovation


Istanbul is one of the most intense urban forms with its extremes and rapidly changing tactile surface. It is a gateway between East and West. Each street in Istanbul has a character that is embedded from the past, which is carried into the present. One of its major arteries is Istiklal, where narrow streets and passages merge into one composition. Old theaters, eccentric cafes, local businesses, consulates, nightclubs, historic passages, art-galleries, shops and numerous narrow side streets are the components of Istiklal’s rich culture. Time is collapsed into past, present and future in such a place. It is full of memories, smells, colors and random encounters. Unexpected moments can occur anytime while walking there; at one moment a protest may erupt, while people watch a pianist playing Chopin in Taksim square. An image gains a character of its own when seen on Istiklal. This place is unique and highly addictive. It sticks to your skin and wants to envelop you with is textured nature. On Istiklal, ones starts to question the perception and interaction with the space around them. Since it is a model of the larger scale body, the experience happens at a human scale, where traffic literally consists of pedestrian and ‘tramway’. The constant crowd makes this artery very active. Outdoor and indoor spaces read as one and become intimate.

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