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Traditional Gezi Park Festivals

Workshops
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For whom: City residents
With whom: “Taksim for All” workshop participants and city residents
When: 2012

Ten months ago, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş announced the Taksim Square Pedestrianization Project with great enthusiasm in a press conference just before the elections. After being approved by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipal Council, the project was approved by Istanbul Second Regional Board for Protection of Cultural Properties as “plan modification” with a solid vote again.

Taksim Square Pedestrianization Project is planning to take the traffic underground by opening diving tunnels from 7 different points including Gümüşsuyu, Sıraselviler, Mete, Tarlabaşı and Cumhuriyet Streets in order to pedestrianise the Taksim Square completely. The only detailed information about the project can be obtained from the video distributed to the press and this situation leads to speculations about the project. The video shows less pedestrian ways than the ones that are available now and at the place where Gezi Park is located, the Artillery barracks are rising again. It is suggested that the trees, benches and playgrounds in Gezi Park should be completely removed.

The transformation process of the most important park in the city, which does not include any residents, mobilised the NGOs and other civil platforms. Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture for All), offering architectural solutions to social problems in the city, was one of these organisations.

Arguments trying to legitimize the project, such as Taksim Square’s missing characteristics as a square or Gezi Park’s inert and inactive situation, were discussed in Taksim for All Workshop and the products of this discussion started the idea of Traditional Gezi Park Festivals. Approximately 200 people attended the First Gezi Park Festival, which was held for the first time on Sunday, March 4, with the motto “Do not forget your food and drinks, your balls, your ropes!”. The second festival was held on the 11th March and the third on the 25th March thus taking the first steps towards the traditionalization of the event.

During the festivals, in addition to the activities of various artists, interviews with residents were made in order to ask their ideas about the park, games were played, workshops for children and adults were held. The fifth festival was organized last sunday and the outputs of the events can be summarized as follows:

It showed people, who were using the Taksim Square actively however not passing through the Gezi Park, that the parc is also a possible place to be “utilized”.

It fulfilled the purpose of the public spaces, which is “to bring different users of the city together”.

Gezi Park became a platform which brings people having a word about the future of the public spaces in the city together and create an interaction between them.

The question of “What is the place of the Gezi Park in our everyday life?” was raised.

Although the process of appeal to the plan is legally ending, the purpose of the festivals is to draw attention to the project and its results in this way, continue to use it as a vital and publicly owned “common space”.

With these events we don’t just want to point out to a particular problem in Gezi Park but also want to show that we can have the right to the city only if we raise our voice, come together, discuss and use our initiative.

Festivals initiated by Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture for All), which is owned now by a wider audience, hopes to produce a local response to the Taksim Square project and also extend and develop the solidarity against the gentrification of Beyoglu district as a whole.

For cooking, drinking, chatting, dancing, singing, kite flying; For Taksim!

You are invited to the Gezi Park Festival!