Breaking the duality: The Historical Peninsula of Istanbul as an open-air museum
The Historical Peninsula, the oldest settlement area of Istanbul, includes diverse historical, architectural, cultural and social assets and has a large potential of national and international visitors as a historical and touristic area. The peninsula has two decomposed districts, which have different urban characteristics. The small district around the Sultanahmet Square is a matter of common knowledge including lots of historical buildings, most of which are given new functions as museums and surrounded by boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops. It is mostly like an artificial urban space, which is arranged only for visitors. It has caused the area to be a touristic space and have a limited activity. However, the rest of the peninsula is most likely to be dedicated to the urban daily life. The tangible potential of the district such as bazaars, inns, street fountains, mosques, houses etc. and the intangible such as traditional life, trade customs, arts and crafts etc. are not taken into consideration, and it is mostly left to citizens. It has caused the area to sustain its organic character and to be alive in the urban space. The whole Historical Peninsula can be considered as an open-air museum because this part of Istanbul has a great potential of having experience, production or creation. Including architectural and historical heritages, it is a dialogue space and an interaction area between the visitors, public and city. Recently, the administrative system of the peninsula is re-organized. Although new development plans are constituted to increase the potential and sustainability, nevertheless the main point of the plan, which is only focused on the touristic district, is to make the district a pedestrian zone, which will make it more artificial and limited. So, this paper mainly discusses a comprehensive plan, which is focused on the public participation and public life. It means that sustaining the museum function in the urban space for the purpose of education, communication, archiving and displaying. It is mainly based on creating various dynamics, discussion arenas, the public awareness and experiencing on its own space. The plan should support the contribution of locals as well as tourists. It will also include cultural and social activities for different types of groups. Consequently, interventions at the urban space should be planned at first in order to increase the number and variety of activities in the area which is considered as an open-air museum. (C) 2013 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.