Eco-gentrification; the Golden Horn Estuary project

This week I want to expand upon the Golden Horn Estuary of Istanbul mentioned in my last post, in discussing its rehabilitation and eco-gentrification. The introduction of urban policies aiming to transform Istanbul into a global city by the AKP party have displaced working class residents across Istanbul, both physically and emotionally (Ergun, 2006)(Ince, 2006). Rent hikes accompanying renewal programs across the city displaced many residents, as seen in this news report:

The neighbourhoods of Halic besides the Golden Horn Estuary were formerly industrial sites and homes to laborers (Soytemel, 2015). Intensive industrial pollution caused eutrophication of the estuary, leading to political pressure to transform the formerly eutrophic estuary. The clean-up and beautification project that followed led to inflating house prices, which out-priced long term residents (Bezmez, 2009)(Soytemel, 2013). This illustrates how sustainable development projects interact with socio-political relationships within and between neighbourhoods of cities, creating issues that are unevenly experienced, despite addressing immediate environmental concerns (Coleman, 2009)(Goodling, 2015).

This restoration became discursive, and the narrative of this ecological and constructed space was subsequently transformed (Sen, 2006). This raises questions around how we construct sustainable solutions to urban environmental degradation in an equitable way, and demonstrates the uneven development characteristic and poorly planned nature of sustainable urban transformations in Istanbul (Goodling, 2015).

The Golden Horn Estuary gentrification resonates with the recent gentrification of particular districts of Istanbul, deemed as valuable by developers, and authoritative appropriation of the natures of the city by the AKP party, a theme that has consistently developed through inspection of the air, water and ecological characteristics and metabolisms of Istanbul through an urban political ecology lens. The video below intertwines these themes clearly, while expanding on the social narratives underlying these natural transformations.


Bezmez, D. (2008), The Politics of Urban Waterfront Regeneration: The Case of Haliç (the Golden Horn), Istanbul, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, p.815 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Coleman, H. M. ; Kanat, G. ; Aydinol T. F. I., (2009), Restoration of the Golden Horn Estuary (Halic), Water Research, 2009, Vol.43(20), pp.4989-5003 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Ergun, N. (2006). Sosyal ve Mekansal Yenilenme, Gentrification Kuramlari Cercevesinde Istanbul’daki Orneklerin Degerlendirilmesi. In David Behar & Tolga Islam (Eds.), Istanbul’da Soylulaştırma: Eski Kentin Yeni Sakinleri (pp. 7–12). Istanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları.

Goodling, E., Green, J.,  Mcclintock, N. (2015), Uneven development of the sustainable city: shifting capital in Portland, Oregon, Urban Geography, 23 February 2015, p.1-24 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

Ince, A. (2006). Asmalimecit’te Kultur Endustrisi Destekli ‘Yer Degisim’. In Tolga Islam & David Behar (Eds.), Istanbul’da Soylulaştırma: Eski Kentin Yeni Sakinleri (pp. 57–71). Istanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları

Sen, B. (2006). Kentsel Gerilemeyi Aşmada Çelişkili Bir Surec Olarak Soylulastirma, [Gentrification as a conflicting process to resolve the urban decline] (Unpublished PhD dissertation). Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul

Soytemel, E.(2015), “Belonging” in the gentrified Golden Horn/Halic neighbourhoods of Istanbul, Urban Geography, Vol.36(1), p.64-89 [Peer Reviewed Journal]


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