In Istanbul, Temporary Architecture Becomes Lasting Symbol of Resistance

An examination of how architecture—no matter how impermanent—can affect protest, change, and define a movement.

Earlier this month demonstrators took over Istanbul's Gezi Park, speaking out against the state's proposal to turn the green space used by all into a shopping mall. While they protested this, and other abuses of power, temporary structures sprung up overnight in the square: shelters, libraries, stages, communal sitting areas. But when the occupation was eventually driven out by the opposition, little was left of these makeshift interventions. Fortunately, the nonprofit Herkes İçin Mimarlık (which translates to Architecture For All) documented many of these structures in order to examine how architecture—no matter how impermanent—can affect protest, change, and define a movement.

"The protests in Istanbul indicated one simple thing for architects (designers?): We need new definitions for architecture in situations when architecture is removed from architects. Each unique structure that we encounter in the streets and Gezi Park has its own in-situ design and implementation process. Documentation of these temporary structures is of huge importance for further examination, considering their limited life-cycle," Herkes Icin Mimarlik explain on their Tumblr page.

Their team not only archived photographs of structures seen throughout Gezi Park, but they also created illustrated renderings to act as a sort of mirror image to the photos.



Pelin Tan
, a member of the collective writes:

Gezipark is now covered with hundreds of tents and temporary structures, which expands mutually and gets flexible in any moment of resistance. This practice of ephemeral and situational dwelling, which co-exists collectively through an unconditional moment, leads us to experience our city and its architecture in unusual ways…In Gezi, free food, drinks, and any kind of needs are organized by initiations. Furthermore, a vegetable and flower garden already started. Instead of celebration, the resistance considers how to transform the occupation into a creative and sustainable space and non-violence manner. Also a library is set up collectively with left-overs of construction materials in which readers can share and donate books. A bus that was used as a barricade in order to prevent the police force and protect the resistance has been used now as info desk by a political organization. A temporary mosque, a movable food collective made up with simple materials and tent, an over expanding open hospital…these are examples of in situ and instant architecture in Taksim square and Gezi."



The movement began so quickly, and with it, structures, materials, and ephemera have become part of the protest itself. In this way, the “event architecture,” and what's left of it now through documentation, can continue to serve as a symbol of the resistance.

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Images via Herkes İçin Mimarlık