Ankara (1929-35)- Theoretical Influences & Planning Principles- Part 1: Camillo Sitte’s ‘Picturesque’ Urban Approach & its influence on initial Ankara’s Plan
Raised during the time of Industrial Revolution, where European cities underwent different degrees of modernization, Camillo Sitte has taken influence from his travel in Countries, like Italy, France, Germany and Austria, and from which he has established his own theories on urban design.
From ‘City Planning according to artistic Principles’ (1889), Camillo Sitte has raised his criticism toward street public space design at his time (Camillo Sitte, 1889).
For the street design, he criticized the increasing use of grid layouts for streets with board, straight boulevards, like Paris, in European urban Planning, which spatially is fully opened with endless perspectives. Sitte has emphasized the concept of ‘suitable space’ that should define an area of suitable proportions that people could comprehend and understand the extent of the space.
Sitte advocated that city should be planned according to a set of artistic principles, known as his ‘picturesque approach’, structuring city like a picture and possessing the formal values of an organized canvas with the bending or re-routing of street into irregular alignments to provide ever-changing vistas
For the public space design, along his travel in different cities, he found the plaza design was of the essence to create a backdrop of communal life within cities, and extracted the fundamental element to create a successful public space as their enclosed nature, applying his principles of ‘suitable space’ to concentrate public programs and take place in a pure space being exclusive to distraction. He believed that the center of square should be freed to allow essential lines of communication and sight to be maintained. Buildings should be joined to one another rather than being freestanding, and recommended supplying a focus in the square, preferably off-center or along the edge.
One point to note was Sitte’s attitude towards historical urban fibers. Unlike modernist planning ideology aimed to construct a totally new strategy for urban planning which ignored historic urban contexts, given the Renaissance and Baroque example manipulating public space during his travel, the context and history of public space has been an important element to unify the existing and new urban fibers.
From the above studies, it is observed that Hermann’s planning on transportation, communal space and interaction with the old town were deeply influenced by Sitte.
In Hermann’s planning of the residential adjacent to old town, despite the fact that Garden City’s zoning of community has deeply impacted Ankara residential planning, the newly design streetscape of Ankara, different from garden city radial gridiron layout, has shown clear reference to Sitte’s idea, that streetscape are developed according to typology. Meanwhile, consideration of scale has been shown on Hermann’s Sectional drawings to create a ‘suitable’ scale of space for city dwellers to appreciate the environment (Duygu, 2009).
From Hermann’s early sketches, Ankara’s public space designs, following Sitte’s ideology, were treated commonly treated as enclosed entities, with unified surroundings and free access to the central axis of the square. With monumental buildings/statues set aside in the square, the scale of work can be contrasted with the surrounding (Zeynep, 2015).
For Ankara’s treatment to old urban fiber, Hermann has shared the similar vision with Sitte to activate location. In this initial plan of Ankara, several intersections between old and new town has been activated into public square, drawing communal interaction with the historical context of the site.
Duygu SABAN ÖKESLİ, ‘HERMANN JANSEN’S PLANNING PRINCIPLES AND HIS URBAN LEGACY IN ADANA’, METU JFA, Volume 2, 2009
Camillo Sitte, ‘City Planning According to Artistic Principles’, 1889
Lawrence J. Vale, Architecture, Power and National Identity, Yale University Press, 2008
Zeynep Kezer, Building Mordern Turkey: State, Space, and Ideology in the Early Republic, The University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015