Cities soiled by history - ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK

Cities soiled by history

Republican People's Part (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's bloody discourse on the agenda; lobbying against the new prime minister candidate; EU statements made to lift Schengen; President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's statements on the security of Kilis and of course Syria.

But I am stuck on the news about the traffic density around the world. I am talking about the news on Istanbul coming third after Mexico City and Bangkok in traffic density according to 2015 traffic index statistics. Rio de Janerio is fourth, while Los Angeles is 10th on the list. I don't know why Los Angeles is on the list with its wide roads and streets while New York isn't when its streets among the high rising skyscrapers are jammed... But this isn't the topic anyway.

The topic is: When I saw Rio De Janeiro on the list, the book named "La Ville Radieuse" and the architects who were inspired by it came to my mind...
The urbanization that came after enlightenment in Europe is very interesting. A group of architects called utopians are even more interesting...

According to these people, who we can label as those who transform positivism to architecture, modern societies need spaces that "haven't been soiled by history." There should have been a city called "liberty" that was built from scratch as the future capital of the revolutionary France, instead of Paris. This city should have been pre-planned accurately, thoroughly and extensively. This new city should have challenged the authority of time and space with its universality. Of course there never was such a city founded in France, but this challenging idea was tried out in Brazil, when a new capital was endeavored to be built instead of Rio de Janeiro...
Let's get to the point.
"La Ville Radieuse," published in 1933 and known as the holy book of urban modernism, was about to sign the death warrant of the existing cities.

The existing cities were dysfunctional, unhealthy and unaesthetic. They all needed to be destroyed. The book anticipated that three cities - Paris, Buenos Aires and Rio De Janeiro - needed to be built again according to aesthetic harmony and free from selfhood. The book asserts principles as guidelines for the cities of the future.
Functionality was to be priority in these three new capital cities. Because just like aesthetics, logic too required that no part of the city was ambigous. Architecture had to be the enemy of chaos.

And then an architect tried to give life to this book, written by Le Corbusier, that remained an essay. He built Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in three years in the 1950s. This was a city that included neat public buildings equally built around the city center, equally divided streets, identical buildings and equally divided regions. The people living in the city needed to be as sterile as the city, just like those people who were incapable of carrying the normal standards of Washington, DC and lived away from people by the Potomac river.

But Brasilia became a nightmare for the inhabitants of the city. These people suffered from a medical condition called Brasilitis. Because the city was designed in such a way that there was never a crowd, the street corners were empty, spaces were characterless and there were human figures without faces. There was a weary monotony in the city. The city was planned in such a way that it was impossible to come across other people in most places.

Meeting in places where meetings were meant to happen were described as meeting in the "Gobi Desert."
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city, is still the world's most crowded city, maybe the city with the most traffic and crime rates, yet one of the world's most exciting cities. But I personally never heard of Brazil's capital city, Brasilia, until I came across the terrifying story of the city's origins in sociology books...

And to talk about Istanbul's traffic issue; it should of course be solved. They should at least make sure it doesn't infuriate us. I don't know how they will do it though. But I believe that cities need a little chaos, unpredictability and randomness. A city should be soiled by history. Because the meaning of "human" is only created in the corners of streets, in neighborhoods, in crowds and in historicity...
Not in the Gobi Desert or in cities like deserts...

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