Deniz Altindag

Playtime of the City (A sample text for a collaborated graphic novel project )

I always thought of the play as something MAGICAL and UNKNOWN.

For some, it's childish nonsense of little importance,

For others, it's a pretty serious thing worth working on for years.

For me,

the play is a secret power,

both absurd and serious,

oscillating between these two extremes.

Perhaps the one thing most people agree on is that it's something STRANGE but also CREATIVE!

This character, which evokes its quirkiness and absurdity, has kept many people from saying anything about it for a long time.

Maybe that's why we cannot see any academic studies until the middle of the 20th century.

Talking about the play can plunge you into something both speculative and ridiculous.

Even while defining it at the very beginning, you may find yourself in a BIG MESS.

Because the play is something very COMPREHENSIVE…

Rest assured it is very-very-very comprehensive.

What we call play is as broad and ambiguous as what we call CULTURE.

What do we call culture?

Actually everything…

Yes, we can define many things as culture.

Well, have you ever thought about WHAT CREATES CULTURE?

According to Johan Huizinga,

who made the first known theoretical study about the play (Homo Ludens),

culture develops within the play…

In other words, games create a kind of culture.

Play is a concept that we encounter in all areas of cultural life.

(order, law, trade, art, craft, wisdom, poetry, science...)

So, the play affects lots of things…

This creative effect of the play on life is still being tried to be understood by many disciplines.

Architecture is just one of them…

Because to create a game, first of all, a PLACE is needed.

This description of the place has been used since ancient times.

In fact, we might think that the world is a PLAYGROUND in itself.

Just as Shakespeare and even earlier Plato said.

The world's a STAGE and we are all PLAYERS.

This line sounds familiar, right?

But is it really possible to design a space where ALL PEOPLE ARE PLAYERS?

In fact, it has already been designed…

In this book, I will try to explain what kind of cities we might be living in,

when play enters the discipline of architecture.

I will show some URBAN PROJECTS which might be called POTENTIAL PLAYGROUNDS.

These playful utopias question

the concepts of "leisure time" and "entertainment" from a new perspective.

I guess now the play is starting to sound more serious.

If you are willing,

Let's take a closer look at this creativity and weirdness…

We can start with the PLAY THEORIES!


The Theories of Play

Why does the play exist? or Why do people play?

This is one of the most fundamental questions that game theories try to answer…

You don't think there is only one answer to this question, do you?

Honestly, there are so many of them…

Before we get lost in these answers,

I want to tell you about 2 basic theories.

The first of these is the theory of EXCESS!

According to this theory, play is the actions taken to get rid of excess life energy.

The playground creates a SAFE PLACE to release this energy.

Makes sense, right?

Well, according to the Functionalist theory,

play is the way to prepare for FUTURE ACTIVITIES!

In a play, people and animals rehearse their daily movements

and prepare for the serious activities that life will demand.

Like we all did as children…

Now, let's look at an intriguing view that many theories have in common:

Play is also an INNOCENT way of getting rid of HARMFUL tendencies…

Desires that cannot be satisfied in real life are resolved through fiction with the game.

Thus, the sense of self is preserved.

Huizinga says in his famous book "Homo Ludens":

These definitions are not wrong or incomplete,

but they lack DEPTH!

Definitions with "measurements of experimental science"

miss the ESSENTIAL MEANING of the game.

Play, even in its simplest form, is MORE than a physiological response.

It is a surprisingly poetic answer, right?

The question still remains: What is the FUN PART of the game?

According to Huizinga, the main meaning of play lies in its origin,

its intensity,

its power to provoke.

Nature could have chosen to get this energy in more MECHANICAL WAYS.

But nature has given the play with EXCITEMENT and JOY!

And that makes things pretty interesting…

We can see one of the best examples of this situation at FESTIVALS!

In festivals,

many types of play can be observed at the same time.

The person who participates as an actor or spectator becomes a part of the flow.

And it is a very enthusiastic flow… it can take the participants to ANOTHER UNIVERSE…

And as long as something takes the participants to another universe,

it's really a GAME, isn't it?

In fact, there is a great example of this in Bruegel's De Kinderspelen (Children's Games).

This painting shows 80 different children's games!

Here, Bruegel allows ADULTS to play in the town square like CHILDREN.

Everyone acts differently here than in daily life…

Maybe because they are no longer in the universe of everyday life…

Due to the rules and seriousness of daily life, actions that people would not be willing to do APPEAR during the FESTIVAL!

Getting rid of mandatory responsibilities…

Move freely…

Discovering creative actions…

Having a real experience…

Just like we have when playing games…

We could have come across such an image in our daily life in earlier times.

We can see this especially in PRE-MODERN SOCIETIES…

At that time, play was a common feature of rituals in everyday life.

In these rituals, human societies express ways of interpreting life with games.

According to this understanding, culture develops in a play environment.

Play has an important role in the formation of both CULTURE and SELF-IDENTITY.

According to Winnicott,

play is a field of creation, and here, people first create their own identity.

People can use their whole personality in the game and thus become aware of themselves.

A person can only discover herself/himself when she/he is CREATIVE.

As a final thing, I would like to bring up the topic of EXPERIENCE…

The game is also where the real experience happens.

While playing games,

people discover how to do something,

to be creative, and thus have their own real experience.

According to Agamben,

the biggest problem of modern humans is the ABSENCE of REAL EXPERIENCE.

Modern humans go home exhausted and exhausted from many events,

but she/he cannot turn any of these events into experiences (Agamben, 2010).

Routine daily existences in big cities blunt human experience.

Therefore, Agamben argues that in order to create a theory of experience,

the CHILDHOOD PERIOD should be examined first.

Time flies by quickly in childhood…

As in the Pinocchio story,

all weeks consist of six Thursdays and a Sunday,

the autumn holiday starts in January and ends at the end of December (Agamben, 2010).

This is because the child is immersed in the game and isolated from "REAL TIME".

The child, who does not carry the burden of a limited time,

plays in another time

and thus has the real experience.

So far we've taken a look at the contents of some of the key theories about the play.

However, that's not all to say about the game, of course.

This is a very long journey…

Maybe it will never end...

New theories will keep coming…

Older theories: surplus energy, preparation-imitation, relaxation

More recent theories: catharsis, behaviouristic, psychoanalytic

Contemporary theories: arousal-seeking, competence-effectance…

I want to leave the game theories here and move on to some CHARACTERISTICS of the game...

There may be something of interest here…

We can talk about 6 basic characteristics of the game: (Caillois, 2001)

1.Free: not an obligation

2. Reserved: defined space and time limits

3. Uncertain: action and outcome cannot predicted

4. Unproductive: creates neither goods nor wealth

5. Regulated: An action based on its own laws

6. Imaginary (as if): an alternative reality against real life

We finally found something tangible about the play…

I guess…

Now, we can tell if something is playful by checking these properties, right?

Well, maybe…

We still don't have a clear answer, do we?

Yeees, some of us can remember these characteristics of the game.

What about those who can't?

I have a small suggestion for them.

They can also keep in mind the two most basic concepts of the game.


A thing can be called a play only if it allows these concepts.

Person 1: But is it the same for the city?

There are actually some examples for this… Oh right, we haven't moved on to them yet… (I was going to talk about playful cities… I haven't told anything about the place for how many pages yet.)

Person 2: So a space is playful if it allows for real experience and creative activity, right?

Yes, it would not be wrong to say that…

Person 3: So how does the city allow for creative activities?

Person 4: What does the creative city mean?

Creativity, city, game, experience, Huizinga, free time, uncertain, regulated….

Abstract concepts are circulating in everyone's minds...

Just a second…

Let me think…

Wait a little…

Well, it's best to explain this situation with examples then.

Yes, the easiest way to learn is by SAMPLING…


I think it will be good to look at sample designs while thinking about these abstract concepts over a city…

So let's get started…

What does a playful space look like?


Playful Urban Projects

Let's think about play and the city together…

Do they seem related to each other?

I know, Nooot so much at first glance.

In fact, serious consideration of these two coincides with the second half of the 20th century.

Especially in the utopian projects that emerged after the Second World War,

we can come across playful city depictions.

The basic motto of these projects is that:

PLAY should be given MORE SPACE in the city anymore…

But how?

They suggest playful arrangements that allow creative actions in daily life.

Everyday life and playful arrangements…


There is a famous declaration: "New Games"

Jacque Fillon's (1954) "New Games" declaration is an interesting starting point!

Here, Fillon touches on two key concepts about urban design:

Entertainment and leisure.

"Free time is a completely serious thing.

We will remind you that the task is to invent new games"

After that courageous saying,

Everyone who gave a damn to PLAY started to take action…

And lots of projects were born…

"New Games" declaration is like a BOMB with a pin pulled…

New Babylon

One of the most famous names to do this is the Situationalist.

Situationist International,

one of the well-known groups that was inspired by the power of "LEISURE".

They blend the philosophies of Marxism and Avant-garde with Imagination and Creativity.

"The Situationist Definitions"(1958) offers a HOLISTIC URBAN DESIGN!

which eliminates the separation of work and leisure.

while describing a new form of SOCIETY…

Everyone is invited to plan this holistic city…

Yes, you heard right EVERYONE!…

This urban design is open to all creative personalities,

not just architects, urban planners or artists.

Famous actors of the Situationalist are Constant Nieuwenhuys and Guy Debord!

Maybe you have already heard these names. Now, they are still pretty famous…

In this declaration, Constant talked about a mysterious project…

New Babylon…

I know… Sounds really intriguing!

Let's go inside…

Here, people recreate their environment each time according to new needs.

Yeees, it is true information…

In this project, creative actions are the focus of the design.

The production system has been automated


It is a utopian project, don't forget that!

So, just think that people are freed from all ties that would limit themselves.

Now, all time is "FREE TIME".

And now people can turn to play and creative actions.

New Babylon has dynamic and unlimited spaces.

Constant calls it as a DYNAMIC LABYRINTH!

The SPACE can grow and develop in every way.

Boundaries are variable.

That is, we can imagine an unlimited space that can evolve in ALL DIRECTIONS.

The places are constantly changing here.

Remember the LEGO pieces...

Not only in terms of decoration,

but also the structural elements of the space (walls, spaces, surfaces) can change.

Sooooo, repetition and habit disappear, and discovery is always alive.

Therefore, Constant describes the new people of New Babylon as "nomads".

Can you really imagine a space like that?

These all look a bit abstract, right?

But, there are some project drawings…

So, Constant really designed a space like that…

At least, on the paper…


Archigram is really famous with its game-oriented city designs.

The group is like a popular rock band consisting of many in and out members between 1961-1974.

But David Green and Peter Cook were always there…

Even when they got older they continued to be on stage.

Like many brave musicians…

Before the urban projects, they produced own hand-made magazines.

These collage looking magazines made quite a splash!

Here, they criticize the elitist attitude and hierarchical order of MODERN ARCHITECTURE.

In order to PROTEST,


Archigram had a powerful philosophy about new cities.

They advocate that people must have more free time to play!

So, in their utopian projects, they made the production automatic…

They use technology extensively in their projects to save people from compulsive actions.

Just like in Constant's New Babylon…

You see, every utopian is dealing with TIME.


Before digging deeper, I want to give some clues about their works.

If anyone mentions about their cities,

Just keep in mind these 3 words…

Individual choice, Participation and Technology.

Archigram's first projects are mega-city designs based on entertainment and disorder.

The most well-known one is Plug in City, designed by Peter Cook.

Here, spatial units are formed according to the individual's wishes.

So, people can participate in the design at every stage.

This situation drags the citizens into creative actions as in New Babylon.

Although Plug in City is a megastructure,

it allows a flexible formation thanks to its dynamic spaces.

If a space is dynamic, it can be attached to each other later.

Don't forget that!

After a while, Archigram gives up these mega-structural fantastic city depictions.

What it is now interested in / is the IMMIGRANT individual of the city.

In a galaxy far, far away from now…

They are really interested in migration!

They design houses which can be integrated into each other and can establish themselves anywhere.

If you remember, Constant also mentioned this immigrant individual.

They have a lot in common, right!

Hope they meet each other somewhere…

Being a nomad is probably one of the common elements in these playful city projects...

Archigram's nomadic dwelling units consist only of mechanical parts large enough to allow for personal needs...

Does this situation remind you of something?

A self-sufficient, minimal and mobile home at any time…


Like portable tiny houses and caravans…

Or in a minor scale, backpages of digital nomads…

I guess, they all come from such a playful lifestyle…

Let's take a closer look at how archigram produces projects for these nomadic urbanites.

The first of these projects is Living-Pod, designed by David Greene in 1965.

The Living-Pod is a free-roaming exploration-focused housing unit.

A mobile home that doesn't have roots in the ground.

David Greene describes this project as a CARAVAN HOUSE that can go anywhere freely.

According to Greene,

housing is a device that people carry with them,

and the city is a machine to be plugged in (Greene, 1966).

Maybe if you want to see more such examples, you can also look at projects

like Drive-in Housing, Cushicle, Suitaloon.

These projects are all small-scale nomadic housing units.

I think Archigram really likes this NOMADIC CONCEPT!

Has this interest taken it further?

Well, what if all of us, all the citizens of the city were nomadic,

then what kind of city image would emerge…

Well, hold on tight…

Archigram even dreamed of this…

"Instant City" as a nomadic city…

Yes, the whole city is bustling, nomadic and taking off…

Instant City, with its balloons that can be taken off at any moment,

serves all urban "immigrant" individuals.

Taking off with these balloony houses might be so cool!

I have always known that they will use the BALLOONS for more SERIOUS things…

Fun Palace

A living organism...

Here is a concept…

Architecture and cities often evoke inanimate things…

But what does it mean for a building to be alive?

Fun Palace is called "a living organism"...

And it's considered a representation of FUN ACTIVISM…

Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood designed a real HIDDEN GEM in 1962.

Let's see what kind of features this playful place has...

Fun palace consists of experimental spatial setups that bring together many different actions…

Let me first say this:

This place is always ALIVE!

So here the fun continues for 24 hours without interruption…

Spaces with different functions such as museums, theaters, fairs and universities have a holistic "space" in which they can build themselves at different times.

Fun Palace has mobile modules, dynamic spaces, boxes attached to beams and cranes.

Playful projects all have similar features.

You realized that too, right?

Because imagination and technology are intertwined here as well.

Flexible spaces and structures attached to the façade liberate the space.

And it triggers the element of CURIOSITY…

In Fun Palace, elements such as stairs, elevators, electronic and mechanical installations

are placed in service towers,

thus creating an "EMPTY" space that can turn into anything at any time.

Now, we have a huge empty space to CREATE ANYTHING!

Well, Let's play with stairs, walls and platforms then…

Because, These building tools can be changed by the user.

So, this way, the design allows for new spatial possibilities…

And all these features give Fun Palace its playful character…

With this playful character, It is becoming a building that has made a NAME for itself.

a pretty UNIQUE name!


Well, I guess that's all for now!

Of course, we could talk a hundred more pages about playful spaces,

but that would get a little BORING, wouldn't it?

It wouldn't fit the game philosophy at all.

So, let's leave it in a fun place then…

As a last friendly goodbye thing, I have a question for you…

Now, would you consider the city you live in as playful?

If so,

How playful is this city?

Or which parts of the city are in play and which parts are out of play?

Is it really possible to design playful cities like these architectural projects today?

Ohh. STOP!

Wait a little…

That's too many questions!

I can hardly answer for the first one.

Don't worry!

I am not sure about my answers either…

Maybe there are other people like me.

Perhaps these playful city projects are still utopian for today's people...

None of these projects were actually built.

They only remained on paper. But its effects have reached so far…

The common points of all these playful utopian city projects are;

obscure spaces that keep the discovery factor alive

open to use in different ways,

changeable and designed with different parameters according to the user

centering free and creative actions

and participant-oriented designs…

Maybe we consider some of these elements in designs today,

but some aspects are still too radical and some aspects are already outdated…

Finally, I would like to remind you of one more common point...

Maybe some of you will remember….

They all want to automate production, right?

Well, Why?

I guess when production becomes automated, our time is left to us…

And then maybe we could start really playing...

A very childish ideal perhaps…

But this is the part that impresses me the most…

That's why these projects dream of a SOCIAL ORDER far beyond being an architectural project.

The main focus of these projects is perhaps just time…

Look at what they say in unison: Come on, it's PLAY TIME...

Maybe as we organize or perceive time in a more playful way,

the city starts to spontaneously play…

The Layers of Memory in the works of Shaun Tan (A conference presentation text for Graphic Brighton 2022, Comics by and for Young People, University of Brighton, UK)

Memory... Images and storytelling...

Today I will talk about the layers of memory in Shaun Tan's stories. And, more generally, I will touch on how the thing we call memory relates to images in storytelling.

First of all, I would like to ask some questions such as: what is the structure of memory? What kind of things do we remember? How does the memory come to the present? Or How does memory affect storytelling? In this talk, I will try to answer these questions. I will also touch on childhood, which is an important point here. And then I will discuss how Shaun Tan's work relates to his own childhood.

So, let's start…

Well, when you encounter a story, it might be said that the process of recalling the memory takes place through experience. The relationship storytelling constructs with memory plays a triggering role here. Because the human brain records every step, every image, every voice and every imagine… Everything we see in the environment is divided into certain codes in our minds. As Piaget (1952) suggested, the human mind transforms the things into images. And it has been doing this since childhood.

What a long time…

This is a good work from Shari Pratt, (she is Canadian born artist) her works mostly focuses on how memory affects identity, the name of this series is palimpsest which is a magical word, I will explain in the next slide…

Well, I would like to talk about the structure of the mind here.

We can think the structure of the mind is something layered, like the structure of a story script. We can call this situation as palimpsest. Although palimpsest is a technical term used to denote a parchment that has been written and erased in a row, it is used to describe the memory in many areas, where the old and the new are intertwined, the traces are not completely removed, and become a new phrase.

Palimpsest is also a strong metaphor used in architecture.

Especially, we can see this situation through some urban maps. Here, we see a city map which indicates how Cambridge has transformed over time. Actually, it is a collage rather than a map. In this collage, different times overlap each other. We can see the old, the new and even the newest ones at the same time. This is palimpsest and it shows a great resemblance to the structure of memory.

Bergson (1999) supports this layered situation by emphasizing the concept of time. According to Bergson, the origin of memory is the extension of the past into the present. This situation allows for the creative development of human consciousness.

For example, when we look at an artwork, although it is quite complicated to explain what the frames, lines, shapes evoke in our memory, what new kinds of schemes it adds to our minds, what it brings from the deepen layers in our memory, at the final, it might be said that a strong point is formed in the human mind during this process. Like a creative consciousness.

If I summarize so far,

We can call that memory is a combination of layers which comprise the traces of space, time and imagination. During a story, people begin to imagine by wandering through these layers which reflect the memories, so they experience the story.

While doing that, images overlap in some places, jump far apart in others. These images embark on a similar journey in the human mind. They move through the layers of memory and create some strong points inside or outside mental schemas.

Speaking of strong points, I would like to give an interesting example here.

(Bachelard, who is an architect and author of a well-known book, (maybe you have heard) The Poetics of Space.

In this book, Bachelard mentions that some places are physically recorded inside us beyond memories. For example, when we re-enter the places that have intense effects on us after years, we regain the reflexes of the first stairs we climbed. What does it mean? It means that we no longer get stuck on that step, which is a little higher than the others.

Especially childhood is an interesting period for establishing such relationships with memory. The fact that childhood remains alive and poetically in us takes place not on the plane of facts, but on the plane of imagination. In this sense, there is a strong connection between memory and imagination.

Pallasmaa again an architect and academician, works on memory-image in architecture.

(His well-known books are (The eyes of the skin, Thinking Hand, The Architecture of Image)

Pallasmaa says that "One who cannot remember can hardly imagine, because memory is the soil of imagination."

There is also an interesting study that I would like to mention here.

Psychologist Françoise Minkowska and her fellow researchers, studied home paintings made by children. Françoise Minkowska organized a very impressive exhibition of paintings by Polish and Jewish children persecuted during the war. She describes them as still houses and highlights that asking a child to draw a house is like revealing the deepest dream of one.

Here I want to underline this sentence. Maybe we'll remember this again.

"Asking a child to draw a house is like revealing the deepest dream of one."

And it is also possible to see that there is an emphasis on storytelling in this sentence. Because I believe that a child's drawing of a house somehow contains a story. and this story is definitely related to the concept of memory.

At this point, I would like to give an inspiring example of the connection between storytelling and memory. And it also shows how important childhood memories can be.

Ursula Le Guin creates an article which is about the house she lived in when she was a child. (Living in a Work of Art; Words are My Matter). Emphasizing that she had a very full and intense childhood in that house, at the end of the article, Le Guin explains how her memories in that house affected her stories.

If I summarize, she says that "I wonder if I learned most of my ideas about what a novel should be like by living in that house. Maybe all my life I've tried to rebuild that house with words."

I think this sentence expresses very well the deep connection between memory-images and storytelling.

Well, in order to understand the reflections of this situation in graphic narrative, now I want to look at the works of Shaun Tan, who extensively includes images from childhood memories. Shaun Tan explains that his drawings first come to life as images in his mind, then he finds the right story by drawing these images many times.

So, I want to ask where these images exactly come from?

Most of the readers feel that these images are somehow related to childhood. Because these illustrations touch on some beautiful moments that remind us of our basic human emotions, even in a chaotic world

Even if he often digs into how it feels to be seen as different in his stories, he describes this situation in a naive way, not in an atmosphere of pessimism. In doing so, he uses some interesting, cheerful images which remind us of childhood.

These images may be composed of lived situations or purely imagined realities. Who knows?

As an example of lived images, it might be said that the empty flat lands in the stories of Tales from Outer Suburbia were inspired by the places where he lived for a while in his childhood. In an interview with Shaun tan, he says that these empty spaces are a mixture of childhood set here and slums from American movies.

For example, the warm weather, which is beautifully expressed in colors, or the shadows of trees, deserted roads and electric poles can be considered as representations of his true memories of childhood. But it doesn't even matter if these places are real or not. It is enough for him to have only dreamed of it.

According to Bachelard, once a place is imagined, that place is now inscribed in the memory. Therefore, besides the lived situations, it is also important to explore the imagined situations.

We will never know whether the mysterious inner courtyard discovered in "Any Country" (a story in the Tales from Outer Suburbia)is a real memory of Shaun Tan or a place that he completely imagined.

Or we don't know if the red leaf or the red socks and the red rabbit are real. All we know is that these may have been imagined by Shaun Tan. Here I would like to touch upon an important point between Shaun Tan's works and memory. We do not call these works as memoirs. Because they are not. These are just some images from childhood. Shaun tan turns them into something creative here. So, something new. It gives them a new meaning.

Well, this is my last slide, which is one of my favourite paintings from Cicada. As a last thing, I want to say that as both readers and creators/artists, all we do during this whole process is just wander through the layers of memory and collect some images. Just like Shaun Tan did. We see that he wanders through the layers of his childhood memories many times. And he ends these trips with interesting stories.

Stories create unseen realities and micro details.

Stories remind us magic and dreams…

I wonder if we could imagine that while creating these stories, Shaun Tan maybe opens his deepest childhood dreams to us?

Because "asking a child to draw a house is like revealing the deepest dream of one."

Do you remember?

Maybe, this is one of the reasons why his work can easily relate to children and young readers.

At the end of the day, they're more interested in dreams than we are, aren't they?


Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. (M. Cook, Trans.). W W Norton & Co.

Bergson, H. (1999). An Introduction to Metaphysics. Hackett Publishing Co.

"You are no better than the dust in the city" The writing for a graphic novel project. This story is about "invisible spaces" in the city that I became aware of when I was a young architecture student. The book inspired by the memories of a student trying to recognize these invisible spaces, which are places that are never talked about, mostly not wanted to be remembered, and that need to be transformed into another place as soon as possible.

As you move away from the center, an obscurity begins here, where I live...

In many cities, the crowd often meets in the squares.

You can't talk about the huge crowds that appear in random streets in such cities.

But there is an interesting situation here…

"There is more in the city than the eye can see and the ear can hear in any situation," says Kevin

Lynch. In other words, the city is such a complex structure, every time you come across

something you have not realized before.

To the urban planners, the cities exist within an intricate and dynamic system.

However, this dynamic existence manifests itself in a completely different dimension here:


A mess that nobody can count,

nobody can control,

nobody can manage…

A mess that sometimes makes it harder to even breathe.

And it's not the kind you come across only in familiar places...

This mess meets you in the most unexpected points...

Every time you leave the known borders,

you are dragged towards an unknown journey.

Dozens of things…

you cannot understand why they are together,

and you will never know what they are doing there...

I call them the places into the unknown…

I started to discover them during my student years. While I was studying architecture at that

time, I began to see these strange faces of the city, one by one…

Chapter I

That semester, I was working in an urban renewal area.

The first weeks of this type of work are usually devoted to field trips. You draw everything you

see to get to know the area, to analyze the surrounding buildings and the street character

thoroughly. This process is known as a kind of sketching process.

So, like everyone else, I went there to do my sketches. But things didn't turn out as I had hoped

at all...

Everything changed when I took the wrong street…

While trying to find the place, I was faced with a huge-undefinable gap that I had never seen


I don't know if this could be called an emptiness…

First, I tried to find some buildings, which left some traces on the map. But there was such a

huge gap between reality and the map… I found myself in a place that even the map did not


A gigantic mess created by the destruction of dozens of things…

I couldn't understand how I felt in such a different place with just a few steps.

In the heart of the city, next to offices, cafes and galleries, what was this strange area really?

Walking through the rubble and watching the things around, I finally reached the end of the

street. As I got closer, I began to hear some interesting sounds.

When I turned the corner, I couldn't believe my eyes.

A bazaar…

Yes, it was a bazaar where vegetables and fruits are sold, vendors chat with customers, and

children run around.

There was only one thing strange about it.

It was as if setting up in the middle of a battlefield and no one was talking about that…

Market booths built on columns that fell to the ground, old covers that act as raincoats, seats

made of emptied boxes...

It was like the pieces of a puzzle were scattered around,

and everyone had taken a piece of that and turned it into something else.

Everyone had created what they could with a piece they got.

Just like kung fu warriors, just like Ninjas do…

For a while I walked through these strange streets.

Then I saw a fire burning inside a ruined building. It was a building with only some of its outer

walls remaining. Weeds had piled up inside.

As I got closer to this strange place, I began to hear some whisperings. Then I came across

something I never expected to find: two women were talking about something by the fire.

There was a brief silence as I made eye contact with the women. Then, the one who seemed

older asked the first question:

Older woman: Do you want to warm up too?

Deniz: Yeees.

Older woman: Come a little closer then…

Deniz: thank you

Old woman: what are you doing here?

Deniz: I'm looking around for my project.

Old woman: Which project?

Deniz: I am an architecture student. I am working in this area for my school project.

Young woman: Are you working on this urban renewal project? (loud)

Deniz: Noooo. I am just a student. my study is not a real project.

Young woman: just schoolwork then…

Deniz: yees.

Old woman: Are you afraid of us?


Young woman: of course she was scared. I'd be afraid too.

Old woman: you're right, everyone from outside could be afraid.

Deniz: I wasn't afraid of you actually. I was just a little surprised. I didn't expect to see two

women here.

Young woman: yes, I did not expect to see myself here in this ruin. But that's life. You never

know what will happen in a week...

Deniz: I guess you live in this neighborhood.

Young woman: if you call it living, yes, I think I'm still alive.

Old woman: her house was destroyed last month. She has tried to live here and there ever

since. But now she has a place… She will stay with me now. I won't leave him...

Deniz: So you've been living on the street for a month?

Young woman: not exactly on the street, but inside some disused buildings. I try to live without

being seen by anyone.

Old woman: I wish I was here at the time of destruction. I would never allow that. Living outside

huh... Especially if you're a woman (with tears in her eyes)

Young woman: that's life... you experience everything when you have to.

Old woman: Of course it is. But that too has a limit. There is nothing worse than being homeless

here. God bless everyone... What have I been seeing for years in this inn?

Deniz: Do you live in these old inns?

Old woman: There's an inn two blocks away. I run rooms for single men there.

Deniz: Rooms for singles?

Old lady: There are many people who migrate to our neighborhood to work. Some of them

work in small industrial shops around here. Some collect paper, bring scrap balls. You see,

everyone works all day. Most of them do not have a family to return to in the evening. Most of

their families do not live in Istanbul but in their hometown. That's why they come to these

cheap rooms in the evening. Sometimes 6 people, sometimes 10 people stay in one room. It's

like a hostel…

Young woman: a bit like a wrected hostel…

Old woman: It's better than being homeless… I'm still devastated when I think of it. How did

you become homeless? How did you sleep outside? Don't you know this place? A homeless

woman cannot live here. Thank God nothing happened to you.

Young woman: what else could happen to me? I lost everything…

(There was silence for a while. Then the young woman began to tell her story.)

Young woman: I lost my husband a year ago. He was already bedridden for several years. I was

looking after him. We have no children. We wanted to but it didn't happen. Relatives also stayed

in the hometown. We were each other's only family here...

Our financial situation was never good, but everything got worse when my husband got sick. In

the end, we had trouble paying the rent. When the landlord heard about this urban

transformation thing, he decided to sell the house. After all, it's all bad... I'm all alone...

Old woman: Don't say that. I'm here... We'll make it somehow...

Young woman: thank you, but your situation is not much better than me. Okay, for now you

have a place to put your head, but it is unclear when yours will go...

Old woman: (silence)

Young woman: Everyone who lives now will be gone soon anyway. We are living in the last days

here... Every day a place is being destroyed... We don't know what to do or where to go in this

huge city anymore...

Old woman: Years ago, they said that urban transformation would come. Your homes will be

renovated. Your neighborhood will get rid of this poverty… At that time, I was hopeful. There

are actually very nice houses in our neighborhood. I was excited about how nice this place

would be if it took a little care… But we soon realized that it could not be as we imagined.

Neither the houses nor the neighborhood will become beautiful for us. They would be

beautiful... but only for other people, for richer people...

Young woman: For a few years, the demolitions start and stop… those who can afford to leave

go to other places, but most of us can't afford to rent a normal house. So, we are going on with

our lives not knowing what to do...

Old woman: you see, we are no different from the dust around us… we are being tossed here

and there among the ruins… that's how it is…

Young woman: We have kept you busy with our own troubles. Come on, go home before it gets

dark... when it gets dark, it's not safe here for foreigners... especially for a young girl...

Old woman: Did you find the necessary things for your homework?

Deniz: Guess, I found, thank you…

My homework…

Homeeeework-schoooool work

On the way back, I just thought of this… that a woman who has lived with the harsh realities of

life for years, who has done it as normal, still cares about my homework…

There was so much to worry about besides my homework…

I was going to work about this place somehow… building and street tracks, slope, elevation,

neighboring buildings… these were not difficult things to answer. All of them had a metric


But what about the non-metric things that give this neighborhood its character?

I guess these things that couldn't be measured metrically had no value here…

That's why there was such a big problem to worry about…

But who could solve this messy problem...

At the end of the day, I was no different than a drifting dust…

Chapter II

The next day I went to school with uncertain feelings…

I was very impressed with what I saw and I started to have an intense curiosity about this


Actually, everything I was wondering was based on that question:

How does a place become like this?

That day, I first went to the library. I started looking through everything I could find. Huge old

maps, old projects, articles…

When I summarized my notes, something like this came out:

Settlement in this region begins in the 16th century…

This neighborhood is one of the oldest residential and commercial areas of Istanbul. It was a

region where the higher class of the society lived, especially during the Ottoman period.

However, the historical texture slowly began to erode with the relocation of this class to other

parts of the city in the 18th century.

Besides, a serious change is seen with the migration from rural to urban areas that started at

that time. Thus, the historical texture is slowly starting to disappear throughout the 19th and

20th centuries.

The renewal changes (new wide boulevards, new constructions…) that started in the entire city

in the 1950s ignored the preservation of the historical texture here.

Especially with the increasing immigration after the 50s, the region started to lose its old

identity completely.

Currently, an economically low-income population continues to live in the region.

With a decision taken in 2005, it was declared as an "urban transformation zone", but the

developments afterward show that this project has become a kind of gentrification project…

When I came out of the library, I ran into a friend of mine…

Tugce-Hey, what's up? We could not talk yesterday. Did you go to see the field?


Tugce-So, did you find a place?

Deniz- I'm not sure…

Tuğçe-I've been wandering around for a week and I haven't found a place either. Anyway, let's

have a coffee then...

Tuğçe-heeey, hiiiii (calling her friends at the dock)

Tuğçe-how did the project go?

Other-well, the teacher accepted the plot. Now I'm going to make some sketches of the site

plan. I'll start the function layout next week.

Tuğçe-oooo, super!

Tuğçe-you work in that urban transformation area, right?

Other-Yeah… Everything is already destroyed there. There isn't much to show in the sketch

either. I'm relieved... I'll probably get the rough plan out in a week or two.

Tugce-Cool! this term, Deniz will also work there…

Deniz-yeah, hmmm…(reluctantly)

Other-how did you find the place?

Deniz-I haven't known much yet. As you said, there is a huge wreck. But there are still people

living there… I want to develop a project that will include them.

Other- yeah, but they're temporary… and it's such a complicated matter. I am thinking of

working on things suitable for the near future of the region. Like a hotel or an art gallery...

Deniz-well... (sadly)

Other-have you decided?

Deniz-I guess I need to know the area a little more…

(Deniz and Tuğçe leave them and sit on a bench alone)

Tuğçe-you got quite a bit. What happened?

The sea - it always happens like that… Am I being too sensitive about a place sometimes?

Tuğçe-Oh, I see… I feel that too. Like digging too many things about a place…

Deniz-Yes, but I am not so sure it is good to dig deeper…

Tuğçe- No, it's not like that, that's how the school system is… mostly they expect us to solve

only those heavy functional programs. So, other things seem like a waste of time…

Deniz- yes, but this way we can never go beyond function…

Tuğçe- Maybe, no one expects more…

Deniz-Yeaah. If it were, these boring projects wouldn't go with high scores.

Tuğçe-sometimes I feel like I'm studying engineering...

Deniz- I wonder if things like "genius loci" exist in engineering?


Deniz- this is always the case in the project classes, right… Like, we all enter a completion race.

Tuğçe- some of us are on the way to become star architects in this race then (laughing)

Deniz - it scares me a little that people with the highest average have a perspective like this...

Tuğçe- I know…

Deniz - Do you think that this is a biiiiiit shallow maybe...

Tuğçe-Yeees, but, at the end of the day, their projects seem good…

Deniz-Are they really good?


*Genius loci is a concept used to indicate the distinctive character of a space, illuminates the

understanding of the different dimensions of space beyond the physical and functional

dimensions. In this approach, which takes into account all kinds of environmental data, space

emerges with its content (Norberg-Shulz, 1980).

Chapter III

A few days later…

It took me a while to find the strength to go back to the field…

But the first jury week was approaching. So, I had to go back to the field as soon as possible...

I was still a bit nervous until I got to the neighborhood.Then that feeling was replaced by great


There was nobody around...

The turmoil I had seen a few days ago had completely disappeared. The whole place was so

deserted that even the footsteps of the dogs could be heard easily.

There was a kind of silence that you will not encounter in any part of the city… It was like an

abandoned place…

Then, in a narrow street, first I see a two kids…

Then a few more…. and more…

And a dozen kids…

They all were playing with a huge concentration!

as if they had not been seeing what was going on around them.

What were they playing, really? Blind man's buff or hide and seek? I guess it's not both…

There were kids going in and out of an old building and they were getting more crowded each


After watching them for a while, I couldn't help myself and leaned against the door of that old


Then I saw it…

I saw a passage that was almost destroyed. An old passage built in the form of a long corridor,

eroded, dark and smelling of damp… and leading to a garden…

A kind of secret garden…

In the back, a huge construction site is rising over the walls of the garden which is about to

collapse… a new building complex that was probably the cause of these ruins…

A contrast created by parts that would not be together architecturally in the historical sense…

This situation reminded me of an almost magical word in architecture history: palimpsest…

The term palimpsest is used for explaining the layers which belong to the space.

Although palimpsest is a technical term used to denote a parchment that has been written and

erased in a row, it is used in architecture to describe the memory in many areas, where the old

and the new are intertwined, the traces are not completely removed, and become a new


But even the palimpsest had a blurred meaning here...

These were the places whose existence was never talked about, often undesirable to be

remembered, and quickly forgotten, which needed to be transformed into another place as

soon as possible.

Was this just unique to my city, or does such things happen in many places in the world?

Although they resemble a huge battlefield with their current appearance, the demolished

structures were perhaps once safe and sterile buildings.

The materials used in the buildings, some facade and roof details were enough to tell that they

looked much more prestigious in some times than they do now.

Going back to the garden again, now it was busy emitting a sound wave…

If you listened carefully, /you could hear some of the children whispering excitedly among


Then a little girl came into the garden and everyone become quiet…

She was keeping something in her palms close to her chest…

When I saw what it was…

Everything suddenly became clear to me. A few minutes later, it really turned out as I


The children were performing a funeral together for a dead bird with all its stages. /Some of

the children were crying, some were trying to stay calm and others were duty-conscious and

followed the other stages of the burial process.

I, on the other hand, stood in silence, / neither entering the garden nor leaving the building.

I was just watching that was going on, forgetting why I came here, thinking of the dead birds I

buried in our garden during the summer holidays as a child…

remembering my little childish prayers for them...

Sing me to sleep

Sing me to sleep

I'm tired and I

I want to go to bed


there is another world

There is a better world…

Well, there must be…

Well, there must be…

Well, there must be….