Role of Public Space in Building National Identity: A Study on Taksim Square in Istanbul

Fig.1 Taksim Square (Cengiz Kahraman collection)

Fig.2 On February 25, 1933, a student group protested the French
railway company Wagon-Lits for their non-Turkish language working policy started in Taksim
Place. (Gülersoy Ç.,1986).


In this research paper; Taksim square is analyzed regarding its history and current situation, its social and physical meanings and values and its role in building identities. .Defining the social interactions in the urban phenomenon on Taksim Square, the role of different types of spatial forms and social structure in spatial conformation and their interaction with each other is the focus of this paper.

This paper provides us a case study of Espace Libre (free space), which is an essential element in the Prost plan. Through the transformation of Taksim Square,  we could find the social and political rationale behind the promotion of espace libre.

‘Cities are places where societies and individuals come together and socialize. Especially open public spaces, which played a fundamental role in the establishment of cities, are laces for gathering for people from every cultural and social class, different ethnic origins and diverse characteristics. Urban space has to be evaluated, not only by physical features but also by
social and psychological aspects to reveal the city’s sense as a whole. While form and space indicate some aspects, they also imply some other concepts like symbolism and collective memory. Today architecture is used also as a communication tool. The representation of ideology in the field of architecture and the symbolic value of the built environment and urban space can be analyzed in terms of this issue. In a political representative place like Taksim Square, the coexistence of the symbolic value, collective memory value and social value is reflected on the built environment. In other words, the significance of this space lies more on its value as an interactive public space more than its urban or architectural features.’

Reference:  Aysegul Baykan & Tali Hatuka (2010) Politics and culture in the making of public space: Taksim Square, 1 May 1977, Istanbul, Planning Perspectives, 25:1, 49-68, DOI: 10.1080/02665430903421734

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