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Turkey makes a move towards sustainable tourism

Turkey makes a move towards sustainable tourism

March 2016

Global architecture firm Perkins+Will’s master plan for the revitalisation of Antalya’s Bogacay Creek Basin is designed to improve the quality of the Turkish Riviera as a major tourist area.

Antalya, the largest resort on the Turkish Riviera, is a city of a million residents and as many as 12.5 million visitors each year. The city is also more than 2,000 years old with a rich history as part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and modern-day Turkey. However, for centuries the area has been plagued by weather anomalies, floods and drought, aggravated in the 21st century by industrial development and the influx of tourists.

That’s why the federal government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and local government of Antalya Mayor Menderes Turel agreed something had to be done and turned to Perkins+Will, the interdisciplinary, research based architectural and design firm, for a sustainable master plan to improve the Bogacay Creek Basin area of Antalya.

“We are honoured to have presented our master plan to President Erdoğan and Mayor Turel, and we are thrilled that they support it,” David Green, Perkins+Will’s urban design lead for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), told the website Arch Daily. “The plan will boost Antalya’s economy and allow the entire city to flourish as Turkey’s sustainability tourism capital.”

G-20 leaders visited the city during the annual summit in mid-November 2015 while Turkey held the group’s rotating presidency before the beginning of the implementation of the master plan. According to Jo Palma, EMEA design director for Perkins+Will, “Our master plan is the key to unlocking Antalya’s potential as a beacon of sustainability, resilience, and economic vitality.”

Creating a new waterfront

The territory is huge, 58 square kilometres along the Bogacay Creek Basin, and the master plan is ambitious. It includes “restoring the aquatic ecosystem, creating ample public space, and enhancing the area’s natural beauty.” Up to now the 12.5 million visitors have enjoyed beaches and water sports but stayed in a city that isn’t friendly for them once they’re away from the sand and sea.

The master plan addresses the lack of places to walk and poor access to the waterfront. However, the waterfront itself isn’t always appealing with periods of too much water or too little, either way resulting in pollution and poor water quality.  Palma says, “By focusing on environmentally sensitive development and much-needed flood mitigation, we will help redefine the Turkish Riviera experience. We look forward to working with local and national leaders in Turkey to see this plan come to fruition.”

Among the proposals in the master plan are regulating water levels in the Bogacay Creek Basin to ensure that the water remains under control and thereby more attractive for residents and tourists. In the newly attractive environment, a mixed-use marina district will be developed with a centre for culture and entertainment along with restaurants and boutiques of various types and prices. The goal is to make the waterfront a go-to destination at all times around the year.

Benefits for all

Important to the overall concept is how it will be executed. Steven Velegrinis, Director of Urban Design for the Dubai Office of Perkins+Will, has been spending much of his time working on the proposal. He expects that implementation of the master plan – sometimes very difficult for a community – will be relatively painless.

“The plan supposes that no one will be displaced by the works. The project is unique in that it recognises and leaves undisturbed any existing development and plans instead to utilise state land and provide encouragement to existing landowners to do their part.” Velegrinis adds, “It is set up differently and offers development rights to existing property owners who undertake Water-Sensitive Urban Design infrastructure on their sites.”

The advantage, Velegrinis says, is that the plan benefits everyone. “Most of all it benefits all of those who are affected by the regular fluvial flooding that occurs at the mouth of the river. It does so by creating an extensive network of public open space that is infrastructural in its function.”

The new public space will allow for many more people to live or visit the city: “In doing so we preserve the existing agricultural land and create significant development opportunities for the doubling of Antalya’s urban population in the coming few decades. It also aims to greatly diversify the types of tourism offerings beyond Antalya’s significant coastal tourism.”

Sustainable long-term vision

The implementation of the master plan will happen in a series of stages. It’s not yet clear how long it will take. “We are in the process of figuring this out right now,” explains Velegrinis. “But in broad terms there is a stage of infrastructure development that will have its associated development opportunities and what will follow will be an ongoing series of private and public developments that will in all likelihood spread over the next 10-15 years.”

It is an enormous commitment for an architectural firm like Perkins+Will involving many people from its London, Dubai, and Atlanta offices with numbers growing all the time. “We are currently moving into the next phases of the project and so we anticipate a large multi-office involvement that will last several years.”

It’s not just a matter of executing this one complicated and long-lasting master plan. The Antalya master plan provides what Velegrinis hopes may become a model in the field of sustainability. “Beyond all of the great potential this project represents it is a showcase for us of both how important urban area resilience is. It also serves to demonstrate how urbanism can be regenerative and actually increase the bio capacity and development capacity of a place in an increasingly contested time for cities.”

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