Designing Intervention

Operating on Beyazit Meydan
Istanbul, Turkey
The proposal for a master plan and new library assumes the existing site and its conditions as the basis for accepting a new layer of physical operations. Whereas the site performs mostly as a space of passage between two places, we identify the gate to be the object of passage par excellence, and we find the Meydan and its vicinity to contain several examples of the gate in its symbolic form: the Gate to the University, the Gate to the Grand Bazaar, and the Gate to Constantinople. Each of these gates symbolize a formal constituent of society (the Academy, the Economy, and the State, respectively), relegated to a status of monument that is today outmoded. At the same time, the Meydan finds its users to fit into the quotidian groups of those same three: the student, the street hawker, and the everyday citizen. The proposal becomes a new series of gates in the form of discreet interventions with the capacity to give to the contemporary Beyazit Meydan user in very explicit terms what the original gates have only promised: access to education, access to exchange, and access to the city.

These are understood to be impermanent interventions, each separately the subject of the same select removal of built artifacts that the Beyazit Meydan has experienced dating back to the time when the peninsula was Constantinople. Here the individual intervention finds itself in a predicament: each has the existential requirement to be autonomous, to claim on its own to be a valid element of the Meydan, even as they are together understood to be a suite at their inception. For this reason they might share formal and/or tectonic qualities, but need to retain a greater or lesser degree of difference so as not to be the subject of blanketed removal by the whims of the next political regime. Here begins a game of camouflage and revelation.

On the one hand, the Meydan is programmatically flexible, offering to be the site of a flea market one day, or that of a protest on another. On the other hand, it resists specific programming. Cafes alongside the mosque - a typical hallmark of placemaking - are in disuse; formal landscaping near the university gate is altogether unused. Each intervention needs therefore to be not reliant exclusively on the success of its ability to program. At the same time it is liberated from the standard performance criteria of usage; the assumption is that it won’t be used. The interventions should embody this apparent paradox, having the capacity to serve a multitude of tasks.

Copyright 2023 - Jasper Campshure