Yenikapı Transfer Point and Archaeo-Park Area designed by Rotterdam, The Netherlands based Dutch architecture firm MVRDV and Istanbul based Turkish architecture firm ABOUTBLANK for İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Location of the project is Yenikapı, İstanbul, Turkey. Project area is 1.300.000 sqm, and constrcuted area 160.000 sqm. With Istanbul as the immutable intersection of vast and diverse mobilities, the design created by MVRDV and ABOUTBLANK for the Yenikapı Transfer Point and Archaeo Park offer a unique possibility to combine and transpose contemporary transportation intelligence with a remarkable historical heritage. Layers in time will be combined with numerous lines through the city of Istanbul, a myriad of interactions of time and space. If a cosmopolitan city is to be defined as a place where circulation of different people, knowledge, technology, cultures, ideologies, capital and goods throughout history intersects and transposes, then Istanbul has performed this function for several thousand years: Istanbul is a «global junction point» that not only connects continents, but also civilizations and lately new forms of modernities.
On the architectural milieu, Istanbul’s urban texture is shaped by the surviving fragments of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman civilizations, which interfuse with rapidly expanding modern and global frameworks. It has Orthodox Christian churches, Sunni mosques, Sephardic synagogues, classical cisterns, rings of ancient fortifications and embellished palaces in the same frame with grand boulevards, metropolitan centers, gated suburbs, derelict slums and shiny skyscrapers. This corresponds to an urban agglomeration that does not define a unified totality; instead it indicates conflicts, consensuses and chaotic flows. Currently Yenikapı has a very fragmented urban texture.
In order to connect its fragmented zones with each other, a public platform is designed, that acts as an urban knot between the regenerated northern urban fringe and the southern coastal park. The conjunctive platform not only augments the urban integration of the external zones such as Cerrahpasa, Aksaray and Nisanca Districts, but also constitutes its internal framework interlinking the northern Archaeo Park zone to the southern Eco-coastal zone by using the Ancient Theodosius Wall traces as a public connector and passing through the clusters of the water campus. By integrating different social segments, especially in Yalı and Inebey Districts, programmatic diversity can be obtained. This will enhance a 24-hour activity of Yenikapi.
Furthermore the infrastructural vision is to integrate the highway, railway and waterway systems with a continuous pedestrian access, forming a «holistic inter-link» through the north-south axis. This link pedetrianizes Namık Kemal Boulevard, Inebey District and creates a new Aksaray Square to connect the tram and Vatan and Millet highways to the north, generates a major Transfer Hub with metro, Marmaray and suburban railway integration in its center and relocates the sea terminal to its ending point to the southern coast, infiltrating and rejuvenating urban zones such as Inebey and Yalı Districts along the way. As the result of integrating transportation systems along continuous pedestrian flows, many of the problems are addressed by enhancing the New Portal character of Yenikapı through a congestive urban vision.
A historical urban center cannot sustain its vitality unless it attracts new activities and investments. Daytime population of Historical Peninsula is 2.5 million with its dense but transitory manufacturing and touristic congestion, yet by night it diminishes into a mere 50.000, indicating a highly dramatic urban and social downfall on a daily basis. This project re-evaluates Yenikapı with diverse functions to inject urban viability into the Peninsula, allocates continuous and alternative activities which make the urban texture more attractive. Yenikapi is leading this project to present the city with a holistic transfer hub, a unique archaeo park and cultural plaza, two iconic attractors and a vivid public coastal zone.
Yenikapı Transfer Center is a distinctive place, providing memories and adding value and services to the travelers’ life. Contemporary transfer points act as catalysts for urban regeneration and development. With the help of Yenikapı Transfer Center, a community-based «Urban Diversificiation» strategy is implemented through the urban vision zone, primarily conserving the historical texture with its cosmopolitan heritage and secondarily injecting different urban functions to attract diverse populations with different socioeconomical backgrounds. On the other hand the physical presence of transport systems should not be a burden or barrier on the immediate environment. They should be efficient, but also as modest as possible in size, which has been one of the basic principles to compactize Yenikapi Transfer Center and feeding back the urban space with a continuous sunken plaza. As a result, Archaeo-Landscape and the Holistic Inter-link as an infrastructural framework are organized to coexist in a heterarchical equilibrium.
Creating an inviting park environment is one of the main aspects of the design. To create a high quality park, providing good growing conditions is a key element. Sustainability is embedded in the Transfer Point and Archaeo Park mostly on an urban level. Implementations of proven and new technologies are proposed there where they find synergy with its direct surroundings; the benefits should merely serve the public realm. A solar roof is by far not sufficient to acclimatize a museum, but it could bring light to the park and the excavation pits. A windmill at the coast is not sufficient to have a station operational, but the energy could easily pump the collected rain water to the vegetation throughout the park and it might light the new boardwalk connections from the city to the coastal park. The rumble from the demolished structures will not be enough to build the archive, but it would be a perfect base for retaining walls around the excavation pits.
As the soil is probably polluted by the present usage and clean water in Istanbul is scarce, additional measures have to be taken. The ground coming from the transfer and archive pit will need to be transported from the site due to its quantity; it could be used for reinforcement and reshaping of the landfill along the coastal line. The ground coming from the archaeological pits will be kept in a closed ground balance on site. On its temporary position it can be filtered and fertilized by the right vegetation. The rain water, coming down from the northern city on to the lower situated landscape, will be captured and stored in wells. These water points are mostly situated in within the old city walls; a playful reference to the Theodosius times.
The Archaeo Park in fact is a park in continuous transition; over a period of somewhat 20 years the large area will transform from the current huge surface of asphalt of the complex of bus stations to an open-air laboratory of excavations to finally become the luscious green void it has been in past times. The river which silted the Theodosius Port turned the walled area into a most fertile one. It has been a food plantation and after a botanical garden for many years; to be traced on historical maps. Yet, now the green void is enriched with the valuable traces of history embedded in the landscape.
The land covering the new transfer tunnel is excavated already and can be turned into a luscious park as from now. This area along the raised train track and within the historic city walls can slowly start to function as a green escape for the dense neighborhoods surroundings. A combination of fruit and olive trees with intimate niches of grass and cooling water wells, leaving traces of the excavation grid, will allow for visitors to stroll and pick nick on a lazy afternoon. While the northern part, framed by the Kucuklanga Street, will be the largest archaeological inner city site for the coming decades, pedestrians want to infiltrate and connect to surrounding districts. Therefore connecting boardwalks are provided; just a few steps above the muddy site one can enjoy the archaeologists’ slow and delicate work insitu creating a contrast with the superfast teleportation of the transitory population.
Where the park crosses Namik Kemal Boulevard with its wooden boardwalk, the park turns into a plaza, in front of the station hall. The plaza is the centre of a Public Platform which extends to Aksaray Square through the pedestrianized streets and continuous all the way to the coast with the Marmaray Sea Terminal. Most people will enter the plaza coming from the northern neighbourhoods, but also from the campus and of course the Historic Peninsula. Others will enter from the bus stop or the coastal park and Yali District. Although the largest flow will arrive on the plaza from the transfer centre itself. In order to make this vast area into a public space where one is seduced to linger and spent time, to meet, to shop, to be educated and entertained, the plaza should be hosting passengers and offering a great urban event space. MVRDV and ABOUTBLANK designed Yenikapı Transfer Point and Archaeopark in April 2012 for İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Visualizations: Zwartlicht
The “Yenikapi Transfer Point and Archaeopark Area” Project, for which a project application was submitted to the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency by Directorate of Projects in Department of Study and Projects of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, has been one of the most important projects executed under the heading of “Urban Applications and Protection of Cultural Heritage” by decision of Board of Directors of Istanbul 2010 ECC. Within the process, considering the values of the project area which includes multiple factors and has a complicated structure, the method of “Service Procurement for Provision of Architectural Preliminary Project from Pre-selected and Invited International Architects” was chosen.
The Project Area subject to service procurement is connected within its immediate proximity by the Aksaray-Airport Metro, Taksim-Yenikapi Metro (which is one of the most important ailroad systems for the Istanbul Metropolis and located in Istanbul Historical Peninsula), the Marmaray Rail Tube Tunnel which connects European and Anatolian sides and Istanbul Sea Bus terminal (İDO). The purpose of the Marmaray transport system is to provide continuous transportation via the rail system from one end of Istanbul to the other by connecting Gebze on the Anatolian side to Halkali on the European side. Excavations undertaken during the application of the transportation projects, both the remains of a 1600-year-old “Theodosius Port” and also with the “35 antique ship remains” of the World’s largest fleet collection were unearthed. At the same excavation area, 8500-year-old settlements of first Neolithic age were also found.