Hacı Bişkin / Duvar

A regional cultural heritage conservation board ruled on Feb. 17 that a temporary urban design structure installed two days prior by the main opposition Istanbul Municipality (IBB) must be removed.

The Istanbul Second District Cultural Heritage Conservation Board convened within two days of the installation of the structure, which was erected in Istanbul’s central Taksim square by the Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) Istanbul Municipality. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu tweeted an invitation for Istanbul residents to visit the exhibit, describing it as a “temporary, mobile public forum and exhibition space.”

The same regional cultural board had failed to intervene regarding a tent that had been in the same square since July 15, 2019 that had been installed by the Office of the Presidency’s Communications Directorate. It was only decided that the directorate’s tent be removed on Feb. 17.

The municipality’s temporary structure mimics the seating arrangement of an amphitheater, and was constructed as a part of the Urban Design Competition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) municipality is holding.

The Taksim area, which includes Gezi Park, the Taksim Reservoir and the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM), was declared an Urban Conservation Area in 1993 by the Istanbul First District Cultural Heritage Conservation Board, Istanbul Chamber of Architects Chair Esin Köymen said.

Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) was declared an Urban Conservation Area in 1993 and was closed in 2008, never to operate again. The board rule on the demolition of the building in 2013

However, the preservation of Istanbul’s iconic square has slowly deteriorated over time through conservation development plans, Köymen added.

“The Atatürk Cultural Center was demolished following a board ruling even though it was declared a cultural heritage site in 1999,” Köymen said.

The protection board has also ruled in favor of the construction of a mosque in Taksim Square and has allowed the Presidency’s Communications tent to remain, Köymen noted.

“It’s noteworthy that the conservation principles that had been overlooked in all those processes were recalled thanks to the removal of the IBB tent,” Köymen said.

Construction on the Taksim Mosque started Feb. 17, 2017 and takes up 2,482 square-meters.