A sub-sea tunnel is being planned to replace Unkapani Bridge as part of a project very much like that which occurred in Taksim to move streets underground. I sincerely wonder who proposed this "genius" project. I guess the contractors are at work again.
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, who was reckless enough to build an unnecessary horned bridge by the Suleymaniye Mosque (dated 1557 by Sinan the Architect), most likely thought no one would care if the boulevard were to pass under the sea. The Eurasia Tunnel, a much disputed project connecting Kazlicesme on the European side to Goztepe on the Asian side, came into being for the exact same reason. No one stood up against Marmaray, the railway that passes through the Eurasia Tunnel, and the Municipality must have thought no one would care about this one either.
If the news is true, it means that this historical district will become a highway intersection, and a unique residential area of Istanbul, Bedrettin Mahallesi, will be destroyed. To change the existing topography to this extent will mean the destruction of one of the most prominent archaeological sites. The proposal of this project alone is an indicator that urban planning is being deliberately and viciously handed over to contractors by the local governments.
Today's Unkapani Bridge is much more sophisticated than the horned bridge in terms of engineering. In this context, it is also much better than the concrete pile-based bridge of Galata.
The bridge was built with a static solution that forms a bracket in the upper grade. Thus, underneath, the barges have space between them and water circulation is ensured. However, it is not flamboyant. This seems to be what is eating at the Municipality. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality did a horrible job of broadening the road and drawing down the sidewalks, which already tells me that they do not like the bridge. Putting the city to expense, and even taking on an unreasonable tunnel project will mean wasting away more of the citizens' money. This reality aside, it will be hugely harmful to the historic pattern of the district.
Wouldn't it be better to rebuild the bridge if it's impossible to restore it? It does not strike me as any different than, let's say, demolishing a bridge in Paris and building a tunnel instead.
This was their reply to why the Golden Horn subway passage was not built in a tunnel: a tunnel is not enough to accommodate the subway slope, Sishane subway station would be too deep, et cetera. You probably remember these among the many reasons why, and they may also be correct. However, why can't we have a proper bridge?
A small story for you, just for fun:
Faruk Gurler, (15th Military Chief of Staff of Turkey, Commander of the Turkish Army during the 1971 Turkish coup d'état, whose name was up for the President of Republic) in the years when he was terrorizing everyone, held a mandatory feast for the bureaucrats of Foreign Affairs. In his speech at the feast, he proposed that Lutfi Kirdar (Minister of Health and Social Security from 1957 to 1960) was by far the deadliest anti-Kemalist ever. Mr. Kirdar's son, Uner Kirdar, (holding senior positions in Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1957 to 1972) a participant of this mandatory party, went up to Faruk Gurler to inquire why the man accused his father. "My father is not the man you depict," he protests.
Faruk Gurler, outraged, responded: "It's official. He is a traitor, for he built the Boulevard of Ataturk underground so that he would not demolish The Aqueduct of Valens. The Emperor of Byzantium holds higher ground than Ataturk." Care to comment on this mentality?
I propose all roads to be moved underground. The contractors would earn a lot of money, and the people of Istanbul would be at rest. And we, the architects, would no longer criticize.
What do you think can be done to regulate traffic without destroying historical sites?
Original article, originally published in Turkish, can be found here.
Credits: Images by Yavuz Alper and Eric Törner. Data linked to sources.