The act of walking in the urban context is a major means to understand and decrypt the city beyond its image since the ‘Dada’ and the ‘Internationale Situationniste’.

Our ‘Walks’ concept takes guided / commented / reflective city touring, on foot and by using public transport, as an important methodological tool and as an integral part of learning experience. This concept aims to bring the classroom directly into the city’s ecological hotspots and spaces of urban contestation. By providing first-hand spatial contact, it offers an enriched and condensed learning process within a limited time frame. The touring experience allows participants to observe, participate, reflect and co-produce. Our walks range from half-day thematic urban explorations to three weeks long summer school for graduate students and professionals; from transect walks with communities for participatory planning to urban activism.

Some of our curated tours include:

Reading the Traces of the Old Byzantine Harbors on the Marmara Shore

Between Kumkapı and Yenikapı the Byzantine city was equipped with 3 harbors: Harbor of Sophia, Kontoskalion harbor and Theodosius harbour. The walk proposes a reading of the ancient city walls and harbor traces across the city’s Ancient Armenian and Greek settlements. The walk starts in Kumkapı and ends in Samatya, where Byzantine kitchen gardens are still in use.

Sinan genius Architect of Ottoman Renaissance

Sinan (1489-1588) Master Architect of Ottoman Empire under 3 Sultans. Sinan’s work as considerably influenced the Historical Peninsula’s silhouette. The walk start’s in Eminönü and ends in Edirnekapı, with analytic explanations on the architect’s endless quest of perfection and structural researches to support the monumental domes. The journey will allow you to discover a large range of the Architect’s work, from his early building to his Masterpieces.

“Mad” Projects and Their Mega Impacts

Mega projects (officially labeled as mad projects in Turkish context) are key to understand the contemporary transformation of Istanbul. Ranging from transport related mega projects such as Canal Istanbul, Third Bridge, World’s Largest Airport to building a new city for over 2 million residents, these spatial interventions have colossal ecological, economical, social and political impacts. This trip traces those mega projects under construction on the Northern axis of the city, containing ecological reserve areas of water basins, forest and fertile agricultural land.

Urban Transformation and Urban Resistance

Istanbul’s informally developed settlements are under the threat of forced evictions, demolitions and relocations. For-profit real-estate projects are targeting old, established neighborhoods with the excuse of the earthquake risk. This trip focuses on those neighbourhoods designated as “high risk areas”, explore the hidden agendas behind the renewal projects and introduce participants to people resisting to this process.

From “Polluting” to “Creative” Industries: Transformation of Haliç

The Golden Horn, the primary inlet of the Bosphorus making Istanbul’s historic city centre a peninsula, was designated officially as an industrial zone by the first urban planners of the Republic. This bad decision had detrimental environmental consequences for the coming decades. Since the end of 1980s, following its de-industrialization, the area has been transforming into so-called “creative industries”, with which the coastal areas are sliced into gated urban islands. This trip focuses on the old industrial core of the city and its transformation into disintegrated cultural spaces.

De-politicization of the Downtown and Reclaiming Urban Commons

Istanbul’s city center is under severe police control, a state of exception reigns over important public spaces such as Taksim Square and Istiklal Street. Urban social movements are in constant struggle to reclaim their urban commons. In parallel to the attempts to curtail publicness in the city, de-politicised / sanitized public spaces are constructed by the government. This trip focuses on the politics of public spaces of Istanbul, starting from Taksim Square and Gezi Park and ending up in newly constructed Yenikapı Demonstration Center.

The Princess Islands: Slow Village Life in the Fast-Paced Megapolis

Just 30 minutes away from the mainland of Istanbul lays the beautiful Princess Islands. The contrast between the green landscape and slow city life of the islands and the over densification and construction on the mainland is striking. This trip focuses on the contrast between the Princess Islands, the urban conservation site of Istanbul with unique eco-system and culture and the city’s Asian coastal districts with extreme level of construction and densification.

Urban Agriculture in Istanbul

This trip focuses on the city’s gardens and investigate the changing path of urban agriculture in the city as well as what role bostans could play for sustainable urbanism.