An alternative public space that will provide multiple benefits to the city: Upper Ground, opened in Izmir!

August 30, 2023
Upper ground space seen from a birds eye view with greenery with cars parked underneath.

In order to create inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities, UNDP Türkiye, Karşıyaka Municipality, and UrbanTank collaborated to renovate a public area in the Bostanlı neighborhood

To contribute to sustainable urban development in Izmir, third most populous city of Türkiye located at the Aegean coast, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) realized an initiative through 'tactical urbanism', which means making spatial improvements in public spaces through rapid, low-cost, and effective interventions. The alternative public space called “Upper Ground” (Yerden Yüksek), which has several benefits of making urban gardening and collaborative production possible while creating shadow for vehicles, has been opened for public use in Izmir's Bostanlı neighborhood of the Karşıyaka district.

The works carried out by UNDP, with the financial support of the Japanese Government, in collaboration with Karşıyaka Municipality and UrbanTank, aim to improve and increase the potential of the public spaces that are idle or lacking features with innovative solutions. The analyses conducted during site visits in the neighborhood, along with surveys involving local residents were interpreted in collaboration with Karşıyaka Municipality and UrbanTank. The findings were then reflected into conceptual design.

"Upper Ground is an exceptional example in Türkiye among a series of tactical urban interventions that we carry out in collaboration with international and local partners for the creation of alternative public spaces," said Gülşah Eker, the Head of Solution Mapping at UNDP Türkiye Accelerator Lab. "It is a space within the urban texture that provides multiple benefits and allows users to co-create. While it serves as a trial prototype, more advanced versions of such applications also provide suitable spaces for urban gardening and microclimate areas."

"With this experience, we will be able to adapt and implement this model in open public spaces with different characteristics within the city," said Özlem Şenyol Kocaer, the Director of Urban Design at Karşıyaka Municipality. "Another importance of the project for our institution is that it supports our strategies and goals aimed at increasing urban resilience against climate change in the Karşıyaka district. The fact that it creates a shaded area and provides micro-scale cooling to its surroundings through the vegetation indicates its significant potential especially in creating microclimate."

"We can define Upper Ground as an effort to create a permeable urban ground in a built environment where permeability is decreasing. Through a public ground design that includes both vehicles and pedestrians, we aimed to bring the neighborhood together," said Tuba Doğu, Co-founder of UrbanTank. "Although tactical urbanism is mostly associated with temporary interventions, in this project, we experienced how a quickly produced, modularly designed, and resilient material-based concept could transform into a proposal for permanent interventions in an urban strategy."

With these tactical urbanism interventions, it is expected that the existing functions of the relevant public spaces will be strengthened and their utilization will increase. After the monitoring and evaluation work is completed, the aim is to transform the interventions made in the relevant areas into a model to be replicated in other parts of Türkiye.