Istanbul/ Objection towards the demolition of Artillery Barracks

Objection towards the demolition of Artillery Barracks

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The orientalist facade of Taksim Artillery Barracks facing the square (Gülersoy, 1986)

The demolition of the Artillery Barracks was nothing easy to the citizens as the demolition of Artillery Barracks implied the clean break with the past. Besides of the political influences, Artillery Barracks beheld both architectural, social and historical values which deserve well preservation from the new-born Turkish Republic.

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Aerial view of Taksim Artillery Barracks before the demolition (Özler, 2007:106)

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The Taksim Artillery Barracks that are being demolished according to the Project of Prost , (Gülersoy, 1986:83,97)

The demolition started on the 25th of March 1940 and received public criticisms as the demolition took place in the course of World War ll. The public criticisms could be grouped as three different aspects – economical, social and political aspect. For economical aspect, the demolition of the Artillery Barracks required a large sum of money which citizens preferred to spend the money in other areas that could help better equip the nation for World War II. Similarly, for social aspect, the Artillery Barracks was vast and grandeur, it could be functionally transform to a gigantic shelter for refugees during the war period. Also, as a building that witnessed rises and falls of empires, the building already deeply rooted in the daily life of the citizens and carried the public memory so the demolition of the Artillery Barracks meant a completely wipe off a long period of history of Turkey that might not be beneficial to citizens that are so proud of their long and rich history. Hence, the demolition of the Artillery Barracks would left the urban fabrics of the region even more fragmented as the major building that made the surrounding buildings comprehensive and cohesive was demolished. Finally, for political aspect, citizens questioned the priority of agenda of the nation. On 5th Match 1940, Cumhuriyet Newspaper published an article titled “The matter: What we need is a zoning plan or a defence plan?” The Turkish Republic had been criticized for too much attention to the new urban plan for Istanbul which mainly to inject political representations to the old capital of Turkey while overlooked the need to equip the nation for World War II.

Reference:

Yıldırım, B.,”Transformation of Public Squares of Istanbul between 1938-1949”, Istanbul Technical University, 2009

1 Comment on “Istanbul/ Objection towards the demolition of Artillery Barracks

  1. The Republic of Turkey remained neutral during most of World War II, but joined the side of the Allies towards the end of the war. I am a little bit curious about what exactly did the public or critics expect the nation to equip for World War II? Was it more of a psychological preparation or really a factual, military one? It does sound abnormal to do this while WWII was going on. Was there any hidden agenda behind the government’s action? (Why was it that urgent?)

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