VOL: 9 NO: 2  67-88  2012-2


Water crossing utopias of Istanbul: Past and future




Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul, TURKEY


Received: September 2012             Final Acceptance: November 2012






Throughout history transportation projects showing endeavour to give their users full access have been regarded as utopias. Among them those related with water – crossing the water or channel crossings – are the most splendid in terms of showing feats of engineering and architectural innovation.

Cities with a dynamic topography experience difficulties in transportation. Istanbul is one being built on two continents – a city with a strait and firth. As a consequence, crossing the water gains more importance in terms of sustainable urban transportation. This paper particularly focuses on the water crossing utopias of Istanbul by looking at the official projects beginning with the Ottoman period up until today. This study encompasses the bridges, tunnels and canal projects, excluding transportation by watercrafts. Proposals are listed under three main headings; 1. Crossing the Golden Horn, 2. Crossing the Bosphorus and 3. Supporting the waterway for the Bosphorus.

Bridges over the Golden Horn have changed throughout the years in line with developments in technology. Among them, the Galata Bridge has had a significant role in terms of connecting the royal and later historical peninsula to the rest of the city. Bridge and tunnel proposals for the Bosphorus during the Ottoman period were spectacular utopias, but were never realized. Today, two bridges connect Europe and Asia, whilst a third is currently the focus of much debate. The current tunnel project Marmaray, of which construction is almost finished, has been constructed along the same route as proposed a century ago. This railway tube tunnel and the proposed Golden Horn metro bridge are two fundamental parts of an uninterrupted rail system network in İstanbul. It is, only the canal projects that could not come to fruition, which are rather big-scale projects and prompt a greater urban transformation.


Keywords: Watercrossing, transportation, utopia, Istanbul, bridges, tunnels, canals


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