2013 | Recronomic Landscapes
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with Cansu Cürgen and Elif Tan

This paper is based on our work under the theme of “City through Play / A Research on Design and Space” in Project I Studio of Architectural Design MSc Program in Istanbul Technical University coordinated by Prof.Dr. Ayşe Şentürer, Ass.Prof.Dr. Nurbin Paker and Dr.Özlem Berber in 2012/13-spring term.

Our research involves discovering how the element of play takes place in urban life in terms of recreation and through which analyzing the three adjacent quarters of Istanbul: Sultanahmet, Eminönü and Karaköy. For that purpose, the research aims to open the current spatial/urban re-creating processes, those emerging by force of tourism, commerce and various cultural reproductions, up for discussions.
In this context, the concept of recreation and its relations with the play are expounded and the terms of leisure and recronomy are identified. In the sequel, the results of a questionnaire study that was held among Istanbul residents for the purpose of discovering the perception and evaluations of urban recreational areas were presented.

In consideration of acquired data, the research focuses on diverse recronomic patterns of Sultanahmet, Eminönü and Karaköy. The principle motivation of recreation in Sultanahmet is tourism, in which this particular district of Istanbul, considered as a touristic capital of the city, attracting mostly foreign but also domestic tourists, undergo a continious process of spatial reproduction guiding by a tendency of historical and cultural eclecticism. In Karaköy example, where the transformed places are opened mostly for middle-classes’ recreation in terms of refreshments, this spatial reproduction is applied by imported cultural elements and the process seems quite rapid and imperious. Additionally, it indicates a certain kind of gentrification considering the changing functions of the built environment and the flow of a new population whom are not of that place. On the other hand, Eminönü attracks both the residents of Istanbul and the tourists by combining the recreation and tourism with commercial functions. The urban renewal and spatial transformations in Eminönü, is mostly autochthonous.

In the final section, following statements on the togetherness of urban recreation and economic activities are presented: The three quarters, subjected to this research, all undergo continuous re-creating processes. Although the common motivation of each indicates economic expectations, the result is diverse spatial changes due to differences of target user profiles, either sustained or ignorance of existing cultural/historical components and interpreting the authenticity. Urban recreation today, whether focusing on tourists or residents of the city, cannot be considered apart from its economy. However, the developments for recreational purpose should generate within these areas’ own potentials and instead of eclectic approaches their historical and cultural qualities should be considered as a whole. Last but not at all least, these transformations should involve the settled public in the first place. In the contrary cases, existing recronomic landscapes may turn into decors steering away from their genuine qualities, thus it also affect people whether they are visitors of residents in means of role-playing.

As an additional research, an online and participant-driven dictionary focusing on current urban repertory is prepared in order to multiply diverse appoaches to the key concepts of this paper. These selected terms are shared with many participants whom are professionals in social sciences, trading, art, cultural studies, architecture and so on. The participants either defines or interprets the terms within their own aspects and contexts. This dictionary, addressed in the following link below, functions as an open-source data aiming to turn plain terms together into an urban reader (http://rekronomik.tumblr.com/ ).