Ankara (1929-35)/ From Paper to Product: Issues in Implementation of Green Belts, Zoning and Streets

Hermann Jansen looked to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City as the model to which he based Ankara’s Master Plan – with different sectors to which he attributed different functions, the whole of Ankara would not only retain its cultural center in the form of the old citadel, it would also develop a new city center for economic and political purposes. However, whilst the Garden City plan is generally well-known, it might not have been the best proposal to be submitted in the case of Ankara, as different issues arose from different in proposal and reality.

The Garden City uses strips of greenery to settle areas with different programmes; the Master Plan of Ankara did the same thing, with various areas having different programmes from housing to commercial to farmland to youth parks, and with green belts as buffer zones in between. The old citadel was also treated as one of these functional zones, with the function of ‘being historic’ and representative of the rich history Turkey has from the Ottoman Empire and onwards. Whereas the green belt was meant to buffer the old and new and geographically prevent the awkwardness of mismatch in style and speculation, what it actually did to the city on the ground level was to isolate the old citadel in terms of circulation with the growing new centre of the capital.

This led to a metaphorical and socially awkward positioning – whereas the old citadel generally symbolized a prosperous and encouraging time in Turkish history, and was a sign of hope and freedom, it physically became an isolated and confined location for the locals, where memories still existed, but no correlation could be found between the Old Citadel and the new city anymore.

This is a prime example of how whereas planning might look solid, if it is restricted to a two-dimensional rendering of a plan and not considered from within on the ground level, even great ideas may backfire and fail to work as expected. The cultural context must also be taken into account; whereas the original Garden City was meant for a borderline socialist community, or at least enterprising, non-expansive communities, Ankara was a much larger city of scale ruled by a single-party, newly-formed Republic which was still coming to terms with itself on its political opinions.


References: “Building Modern Turkey: State, Space and Ideology in the Early Republic”, Zeynel Kezer

“Turkey: Modern Architectures in History” Sibel Bozdogan, Esra Akcan

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