Istanbul (1956-1961)/Nodes, Boulevards, Highways: Menderes’s Transportation Network And Its Origin
Devoting a considerable portion of the Redevelopment Act to traffic optimization, Menderes demanded an exhaustive reconstruction of the transportation system of Istanbul. Similar to his predecessor Prost, he prioritized traffic as the major problem that Istanbul was to tackle during the following years of growth.
A transportation network system on the European half of Istanbul was proposed by Menderes, who constructed it with nodal points, boulevards, and highway arteries. By enlarging and renovating existing public squares, Menderes added another function to the original historical and civic places as traffic junctions where vehicle flows converge. Boulevards linking these junctions were to be constructed based on the original streets along such linkages. Major boulevards, including Ordu Street, Millet Street and Vatan Street, were extended outwards from the center of Istanbul Peninsular, reaching the city wall. Highways connecting the suburb and bypassing city center were also mentioned in the objectives of Redevelopment Act as a method of easing downtown traffic congestion problem. A littoral road encircling the Istanbul Peninsular were also included in the network system.
Menderes’s conception of the transportation network was largely inherited from French architect Henri Prost, the former advisor of Istanbul’s urban renovation. During his tenure from 1937 to 1951, Prost produced multiple plans for Istanbul, the last piece among which hinted the skeleton of Menderes’s plan. The idea of traffic junction was first put forward by Prost in his renovation project of Taksim Square.
Menderes’s plan was at that time compared to Haussmann’s Paris and received criticisms on its massive demolition that even worsen the problems already faced by Istanbul. It is evident that Menderes was, directly or indirectly, subjected to the influence of the Haussmann’s plan for Paris. However, the axial quality of Haussmann’s plan was hardly found in Istanbul. The topographical brokenness of the city built across a strait made it difficult to work out the geometries. The Turkification of Haussmann’s concepts, or the adoption of the boulevard model in a mitigated manner according to the original urban fabric of Istanbul, reveals connections between Turkey and the Western countries both in urban planning strategies and in their understanding of a modern city. By underlining the transportation issue, efficiency was placed at the top, when other influential factors were downplayed.
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