Istanbul (1956-1961)/Planned Or Ad Hoc: Menderes’s Legislative Preparation For The Redevelopment Act

Menderes at the Yassıada Trial in 1960 after the military coup that overthrew DP earlier in the same year

During the trial in 1960 after the military coup in the same year that subverted the Democrat Party (DP) government, Menderes was charged with acting arbitrarily without proper planning. Though denied by Menderes at the trial, people were convinced that the under-preparation nature of the Redevelopment Act was blamable for the unplanned, desultory execution of demolition works and the resulting destructive impact on Istanbul. However, the believe that Menderes’s Redevelopment Act was merely an ad hoc plan is questionable. In fact, legislative evidence during Menderes’s tenure reveals a long-stretching timeline of Menderes’s step-by-step efforts of laying the foundation for the enactment and the execution of the Redevelopment Act.

Since his accession to the prime minister of Turkey, Menderes have been constructing a legislative framework that supports his coming plan for Istanbul’s redevelopment. In 1951 he established the High Council of Immovable Heritage Items and Monuments, which played a salient role especially in granting approvals to demolition works during the execution of the Redevelopment Act. A further regulation with specifications was created in the following year for the High Council of Immovable Heritage Items and Monuments. In 1956 when Redevelopment Act was announced, permission was also granted to municipalities to expand planning controls over the peripherical districts beyond the boundary of the governance area, preparing the legislative framework for the later extension of Istanbul’s redevelopment plan into a regional act. Later in the same year, a new expropriation act was passed to support the implementation of the Redevelopment Act, most notably the demolition works.

Acting as a prime minister, Menderes adeptly manipulated the legislative framework of Turkey and utilized it to ensure his plan for Istanbul to be carried out. Despite his effort in justifying his plan, however, Menderes’s preparation works, though far from ad hoc, still demands more considerations in prevention of the unexpected impact of massive expropriation before the reconstruction works start.




Gül, Murat. Architecture and the Turkish City: An Urban History of Istanbul since the Ottomans (2017): 87-116, 123-126

Gül, Murat. The Emergence of Modern Istanbul: Transformation and Modernisation of a City. New York: Tauris Academic Studies (2009): 140-179

2 Comments on “Istanbul (1956-1961)/Planned Or Ad Hoc: Menderes’s Legislative Preparation For The Redevelopment Act

  1. You made a very good and logical interpretation of the multifaceted drivers of the Redevelopment Act and analysis of the role of nationality of citizens and western political power in the urban planning decision in Turkey. The significance, the big social and international context, key ideologies, characteristics and ideals of Menderes’s urban planning were well analysed and critically compared with Haussmann’s Paris scheme. The whole narratives let us understand the reason of the fail of the Redevelopment Plan and learn lessons from it. Now I am intriguing the nowadays urban morphology of Istanbul in comparison with Menderes’s one.

    • Thanks for the comment! According to the research I’ve done, Menderes did leave an inerasable impact on the city form of modern Istanbul, especially the downtown area of the European peninsula, where he laid his boulevards. However, as a large portion of the reconstruction works remained suspended after the 1960 coup, Menderes’s impact was destructive rather than constructive. Nevertheless, the succeeding governors made efforts trying to complete his plan since the only way to offset the damage was to complete the plan.

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