MARCH 2022

Reading Urban Gentrification Through Art Museum Representation

Begum Eser is a designer and researcher of urban studies. Her main research interests are contemporary urban design theory and method, design codes of urban spaces, and visual thinking in urbanism. She works as a research and teaching assistant in the department of City and Regional Planning at Istanbul Technical University. She graduated from ITU Urban Design master’s program with her thesis entitled: Semiotics in Spatial Design and Its Potentials in The Design Studio. She is a B.Sc. graduate from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.

In the urban agenda of Istanbul, we frequently encounter transformation processes that cause changes in the basic character of the old area in the city. In these processes, we witness planning and design strategies that cause urban gentrification. In these gentrification stories, we see that the investments of capital in urban development and planning strategies and the choice of location have a very critical effect on determining the fate of the city. Capital’s investments in culture and art appear as important tools for the city to take its place in globalization. Therefore, the gathering of museums, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, residences, and shopping centers in certain places forms part of the puzzle as an important cause and result of the gentrification process.

In the last few years, we have seen that the Dolapdere district has been added to the Taksim-Tarlabaşı axis, where gentrification processes have been experienced for a long time in Istanbul. When we look at the reasons for the change in the urban fabric by expanding the axis in this way; it is seen that the location of the capital is an important factor. Art galleries and museums opened one after another in the neighborhood during the transformation process in Dolapdere, which was one of the small manufacturing districts of the city until recently, appearing as an important component of the transformation process. In particular, it is possible to see that the movement and gentrification process in the region coincided with the relocation of the Arter Art Museum, which is affiliated to the Vehbi Koç Foundation, which is an important global capital group, to Dolapdere. In this context, we aim to look at Dolapdere again in the center of the Arter Art Museum and to read the gentrification here through the style of representation established by the Arter.



Step1: Overview of the Dolapdere Gentrification Axis

First of all, we witness interesting stories of urban rifts and stratification on the route we started walking from Taksim to Dolapdere.


Step2: Overlooking Dolapdere at the Arter

When we come to the structure, we see the
same interesting pattern of coming together; the
structure looks like it came from outer space and
was accidentally put there.





Step3: Overlooking Dolapdere from Inside the Arter
When we look at the design of the building, we see that it makes the city, and its inhabitants look at it by creating transparent frames from the inside. But this state of seeing turns the city into a dull spectacle, and in a sense, it turns the city and its inhabitants (without their approval) into contemporary art material on the Arter’s walls. Moreover, by not giving the same right to the city and its inhabitants, it works unilaterally for transparency; designs an interior that is invisible from the outside.

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