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A City of Own's Own

Eloise Piper

Istanbul, Turkey


MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design (MAUD)


Informality, Gender

In Istanbul, informal or gecekondu settlements (self-built squatter houses built on urban land by rural migrants) have been targeted by governmental urban transformation. This is largely because of their de facto ownership, resulting in mass demolition of gecekondus and displacement of residents, formalisation of ownership and commodification of land. It has widely been acknowledged that Urban Transformation Projects (UTPs) reproduce social inequalities by ignoring socio-spatial needs, reinforcing economic instabilities and devaluing property ownership defined by use rather than legal relation. This project accordingly examines gendered experiences of UTPs through spatial and property analysis in Başıbüyük, a gecekondu settlement in Istanbul which has undergone urban transformation, in relation to women’s commoning practices of care and repair. The proposal develops a strategy for the community to capitalise on self-built space and collective ownership in order to empower women in particular. For example, a co-housing cooperative with communal facilities, emphasise shared caring relations, as to mitigate women’s individual responsibility for social reproduction. Furthermore, the workshop allows for incremental, autoconstructed space and encourages the creation of the commons through repair. It also provides training on self-built Turkish hımış construction with compressed earth bricks, as an earthquake resilient technique. Alternative property models have a role in design that overcomes certain gender inequalities and creates an environment which has a much-needed degree of legal and physical stability.

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