From “Shack” To Gecekondu: Transformation of Urban Space in Ankara: 1923-1960
Şenyapılı, Tansı. “Baraka”dan Gecekonduya: Ankara’da Kentsel Mekânın Dönüşümü: 1923-1960. İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2004, 372pp. 


From “Shack” To Gecekondu: Transformation of Urban Space in Ankara: 1923-1960

“Baraka”dan Gecekonduya: Ankara’da Kentsel Mekânın Dönüşümü: 1923-1960

Gecekondu, a squatter’s house erected overnight mostly on public lands without permission, is an age-old problem in Turkish urban settlements. This book focuses on this problem which has not been adequately studied. 

The aim of this study is to fill an important gap in the history of Turkish city planning. As the author stresses, it is hard to document the spatial development of Turkish urban settlements due to the lack of well-organised archives. This is the case even for the capital, Ankara, where scarcity of evidence makes it hard to document the urban transformation experienced during the Republican period. This work makes wide use of official and private archives as well as academic works and other sources. As one of the first studies in this field, the book won the Sedat Simavi Social Sciences Award in 1986. 

The work examines chronologically the period between 1923 and 1960. The author first analyses the spatial transformation of the small city of Ankara and the architectural preferences of the founders of the Republic during the 1920s. He then describes how gecekondus gradually spread throughout the city, the reasons that led to their rise and the state’s position regarding this problem.

The author addresses the gecekondu issue in relation to the economical, demographic, social, political, cultural, historical and environmental implications. To this end, he refers not only to the official data and figures but also to novels, short stories, memoirs, travel books and newspapers, as well as interviewing those who witnessed different phases of the spread of gecekondus. 

The author explains that after the foundation of the Republic, the state authorities saw gecekondus as “shacks” and did not attach much importance to this issue. Since they could not meet the housing demand of the capital’s growing population, they accepted solutions found by the people themselves. After 1950, as the need for cheap labour increased, the government became gradually more sympathetic to gecekondus, as they now had a different role to play in the economy. The author states that the gecekondu concept defined a specific type of development, which prevented the emergence of problems that could jeopardise the security of the society. 

In short, in this work Şenyapılı analyses the spread of gecekondus in Ankara by taking into account Turkey’s general economic and social development. It refers to the people’s needs and the state’s priorities. 

Engin Kılıç
Translated by Aysu Dincer

Kılıç, Engin. '"English abstract of 'From “Shack” To Gecekondu: Transformation of Urban Space in Ankara: 1923-1960'". Translated by Aysu Dincer. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 24. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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