VOL: 8  NO: 1  100-116   2011-1


“Les Transformations d’Istanbul”: Henri Prost’s planning of Istanbul (1936-1951)



C â n â B I L S E L

Middle East Technical University Department of Architecture, Ankara, TURKEY

Received: July 2010            Final Acceptance: April 2011



Henri Prost, who was one of the founders of town planning in France, was invited to prepare the master plan of Istanbul by the Turkish government in 1935. He conducted the planning of the historic capital and the most populous city of Turkey from 1936 to 1951. Although Prost has been renowned particularly with his conservative attitude toward the cultural heritage and the assets of the natural landscape, curiously he adopted a highly interventionist planning approach in Istanbul.


“Les Transformations d’Istanbul” is the title of his speech at the Institut de France in September 1947. This title, which he gave later to the collection of his planning notes, reveals the principal goal of his planning in Istanbul on the basis of three principal issues: transportation, hygiene and aesthetics. The aimed transformation was twofold: it consisted in restructuring the city as a whole mainly by establishing a new transportation infrastructure, and reshaping the urban fabric by intervening on the building and population density of the existing centers. In line with the idea of a “concentration plan,” the plans that he prepared for the historic peninsula were directed to rationalize the street network and to increase the building density. But, while Prost intervened radically on the historic fabric of the city, he also cared for the “total effect” in Istanbul’s skyline. Prost’s plans, which were partly implemented during and after his stay in Istanbul, had long lasting effects on the city’s transformation.



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