The Changing Face Of Büyükada: Urban Transformation And Responsibility – OpEd


Büyükada (Prinkipo near İstanbul) often regarded as the jewel of Istanbul, is an island known for its natural beauty. However, recent developments on the island have raised concerns among many, sparking debates among its residents. Observing these changes and contemplating their implications, it becomes clear that we must address these adverse developments in Büyükada.

During a recent journey on an electric minibus in Tepeköy, I was taken aback by what I saw on Ihlamur Sokak. There was an ongoing excavation for a deep foundation, intended to accommodate two basement floors, with construction work commencing on a concrete building of at least 2-3 stories. It’s essential to note that a significant portion of Büyükada is designated as an SIT (Site of Historical and Cultural Significance) area, where construction should not be permitted. However, it appears that urban transformation has found its way to the island. These construction projects have understandably raised concerns among the island’s residents.

The entire archipelago is designated as an SIT (Site of Historical and Cultural Significance) area. The ongoing construction work in the islands is announced for the temporary service building of the island’s municipality. The existing municipal service building is considered risky due to its lack of earthquake resistance. Therefore, the current municipal service building will be demolished and replaced with an earthquake-resistant one. Besides, the coastal area is already filled, and the question remains: how much can the coastline endure in the face of an earthquake?

The approval of numerous construction projects could lead to an influx of cheap labor in the form of refugee workers coming to the island. These workers will adapt to the environment and possibly bring more of their counterparts in the future, potentially altering the demographic balance of the island.

Büyükada is renowned for its natural beauty and historical structures. Nevertheless, the recent proliferation of characterless concrete buildings not only jeopardizes the island’s aesthetics but also disrupts its ecological balance. The rapid proliferation of electric scooters and electric cars, speeding through the streets, has resulted in the disappearance of pedestrian walkways. The issue is exacerbated by young individuals who, in many cases, lack driver’s licenses and operate these vehicles recklessly, leading to frequent accidents.

With local elections approaching, politicians will seek votes from Büyükada. Yet, it should be the island’s residents who have the ultimate say, rather than transient day-trippers or construction-oriented contractors. During the voting process, it’s essential to remember that the preservation and development of Büyükada are responsibilities for future generations.

Lastly, I’d like to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of our Republic. This significant day represents a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. We must uphold the values of our Republic and protect natural treasures like Büyükada, ensuring a better Turkey for the generations to come.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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