An Interstitial Reading of Istanbul




interstices, Istanbul, Reading the city, urbanism, Urban complexity


 As palimpsests of multiple layers of historic, geo-political, and socio-economic complexity, contemporary cities demand innovative methods of deciphering and unraveling their development.  Typically referred to as reading the city, these methods of delayering and synthesizing urban complexity have, for long, pre-occupied urban planners and decisionmakers.  Drawing from its interdisciplinary literature, this paper explores a comprehensive model of reading the city. Using a qualitative approach from both the archival and visual data sources, this study provides a better understanding of complex layers of urbanism that guide urban planners, policy makers and decisionmakers in developing more convenient solutions to urban problems. With multiple layers of its urbanism, Istanbul makes a suitable case study for this purpose. Identifying three types of developments (controlled or top-down, partially controlled and outlawed, bottom-up), different interactive networks provide sufficient grounds for reading Istanbul. Reading these intricate layers of Istanbul’s ‘closed’ and ‘open’ city (Sennett, 2017) in close proximity to a main transportation artery (D 100 highway) against the broader backdrop of its long history intertwined with geographic and socioeconomic push and pull forces provides a comprehensive tool for adopting similar methods for reading other cities.

Author Biographies

Fatma Pelin Ekdi

Fatma Pelin Ekdi completed her Ph.D. and MSc at Istanbul Technical University and her undergraduate studies at Izmir Institute of Technology. Her research interests lie in the area of Fuzzy Logic modelling, public space, publicness, theory of urban design and implementation.

Mahyar Arefi, Professor, University of Texas at Arlington

Mahyar Arefi (PhD) has taught Planning at University of Cincinnati and Texas at Arlington for two decades. His research interests include urban design theory and pedagogy, place and placemaking and informal settlements.


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How to Cite

Ekdi, F. P., & Arefi, M. (2019). An Interstitial Reading of Istanbul. ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning ISSN: 2147-9380, 7, 182–211.