Historic Areas of Istanbul

Historic Areas of Istanbul, proposed by Turkey as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: district renewal projects, public involvement, declaration of renewal areas.

Summary provided by State Party

The Renewal Area covers an area of 90,942.16 m², and situated within the Protection Zone of Land Walls, between Edirnekapı and Vatan Avenue. The project site covers 12 plots and 378 parcels. 46 of the registered properties feature civil architecture styles, while 15 are monumental structures. A 13,000 m² area owned by our Municipality has also been included in the project, in order to build and sufficiently meet the amount of housing needed.

The target here is to avoid demolishing taking place inside the area and reintegrate it with the city, based on a renewal model regarding the physical space, and allowing property owners to enjoy their property rights.

Registered properties were taken into great account during preparation of projects. As a result, 24 registered properties of that time were increased up to 30, together with the properties our Municipality proposed for registration. Renewal implementation project for the site was drawn up according to the draft design approved on 02.11.2007. The Conservation Board for Renewal Areas granted a plot-based approved in 2010. Properties were further analyzed while renewal implementation projects were drafted, and other structures were also spotted for registration. Thus, the number of registered properties featuring civil architecture styles increased to 46. Survey, restitution and restoration projects for all the registered properties within the renewal area were drafted and approved. All registered properties will be restored in accordance with approved projects. Studies have also started for restoration of the cultural properties within the site, such as monumental mosques and fountains, with the cooperation of the General Directorate of Foundations and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

What is intended in the 91,000 m2 site is not only space-based renewal, but also creation of common areas such as greenery, parks, playgrounds, trade and cultural centers, thus improving living conditions of the residents.

Sulukule will also hold substantial tourist and cultural potential, owing to its integration and the relation it has created with the city. Sulukule stands on an outstanding tourist and cultural route along the city walls. It also complements the route along Tekfur Palace, Anemas Dungeons, Ayvansaray and Fener-Balat Culture.  It is designed as a living space nurtured by these areas, rather than a challenging party against this cultural potential.

The implementation process started pursuant to the Renewal Implementation Project, which was approved by the Conservation Board for Renewal Areas, and continued throughout 2011. Before construction work started, the site underwent soil screening, under the “Electrical and Magnetic Soil Screening Works.” The implementation process continued after related soil reports were approved by the Conservation Board. 165 blocks will be built on the renewal area. Construction of 90% of these blocks has been finalized.

One-off Initiative for the recognition of best practices

The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2011, responds to the identified needs of a diverse and growing audience for capacity building for World Heritage conservation and management activities. Development of resource materials such as best practice case studies and communication tools are among the activities foreseen by the strategy to improve these capacities.

An example of an innovative capacity building initiative is the recently concluded Recognition of Best Practice in World Heritage Management. This initiative, requested by the World Heritage Committee and carried out within the framework of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012, solicited applications from World Heritage properties which had demonstrated new and creative ways of managing their sites. Twenty-three submissions were received and evaluated by a 10-member international selection committee which included the representatives of the Convention’s Advisory Bodies, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN. The Historic Town of Vigan in the Philippines was chosen as a best practice achieved with relatively limited resources, a good integration of the local community in many aspects of the sustainable conservation and management of the property and with an interesting multi-faceted approach to the protection of the site.

Management practices recognized as being successful and sustainable can include everything from involving local people in site management, to creating innovative policies and regulating tourism. There are sites that include students from local schools in the management of the site (Slovenia), train local inhabitants as tour guides (Peru), or even put up nylon fences to protect villagers from straying tigers from the Sundarbans National Park (India). Sharing these practices helps other sites find solutions that work.

This initiative provides incentives for States Parties and site managers to reflect on their management practices and explore improvement possibilities.