Speed, mobility and urban space: anatolian side of Istanbul

The paper will discuss the relationship between mobility and urban space focusing on the contemporary urban transformations taking place on Anatolian side of Istanbul. In the last decades, Istanbul is experiencing a rapid urbanization due to the development of large-scale projects composed of housing settlements and office quarters that cause the development of new districts. Even though these new districts are far from the city center, they are not a form of suburbanization. They are rather fragmented urban entities that are connected by urban networks. The city is not a destination but a form of networks that are generated by mobility.

The urban development history of Anatolian side of Istanbul is in parallel with the railways. Ottoman Empire focused on railway development as a tool to revitalize the economic and military structure. Anatolian Railways developed in the late 19th century in Istanbul not only introduced a new mode of transportation but also generated the urban development around the railways and stations. The new districts around stations, which were suburbs at the period they developed, forms the contemporary central districts on Anatolian side of Istanbul. In this respect, railways accelerated suburbanization and counter urbanization. The urban space around the railways extended and developed depending on trajectory of railways until the introduction of motorways as the main transportation means after 1950’s.

Fig. 1 Plan of Kadıköy. Kadıköy Hakkında Tedkikat-ı Belediye (HRT 102, 1913, İ.B.B.A.K. Archives)

Today, Istanbul experiences a different kind of urbanization depending on mobility; it is the capital mobility that guides the contemporary urbanization. In this respect, speed and mobility call for a new practices and spatial organizations that the capitalist structure requires. Contemporary city suburbs grew not as a result of the physical effects of transportation but grew as a result of the socio-political and economical effects of capitalism. The contemporary urban development of Anatolian side of Istanbul is not a case of suburbanization, but rather it is composed of urban entities that are connected by urban networks. Speed and mobility transformed the traditional binary oppositions as center/periphery, city/countryside. Where does the city start or where does the countryside end? This is not a question that can be discussed just depending on the physical features of the urbanization. The aim of this paper is to discuss the role of speed and mobility in transformation of landscape into urban space resulting in the emergence of new modes of urbanization. The contemporary city will be discussed as a city depending on mobilities.


Fig. 2 View of Ataşehir district on Anatolian side of Istanbul.

BIO | Ebru Salah (Ankara, 1977). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Gazi University in 1999. She completed her master’s degree at Urban Design Department, Middle EastTechnical University in 2005. She is a Ph.D. candidate at Department of Architecture, Middle East Technical University. Her fields of interest developed on the urban and environmental history and theories.



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