Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Gated Communities in Istanbul: The New Walls of the City

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Gated Communities in Istanbul: The New Walls of the City

Article excerpt

Since the 1980s, gated communities have been the main driver of urban housing development and the real estate market in the Istanbul Metropolitan Area. While gated communities have shaped the urban macroform and urban sprawl, they have radically transformed the inner city. The aim of this paper is to investigate the patterns of gated communities in Istanbul. By evaluating 161 gated developments, the paper aims to develop a typology for them and to evaluate their impact on the urban macroform. The results offer useful lessons for other dynamic metropolitan cities.

Diversity of gated communities

Gated communities are a part of the trend of suburbanisation that is based on the creation of self-contained, separate communities with carefully constructed identities as well as the typical patterns of the rapid spread of proprietary urban communities of the twenty-first century (Webster, Glasze and Frantz, 2002). In parallel to the growing diversity and multiplicity, gated communities have increasingly become a major trend in the housing market in developed and developing countries. They have radically transformed the urban environment with their different characteristics, where social segregation and identity features have become more prominent. In other words, gated communities have led their users to differentiate themselves in their physical and social living environment from their surroundings mainly through the level of security.

In literature, there is not a single definition or a common consensus regarding the concept of 'gated communities'. Numerous terms are used to refer to this phenomenon. The diversification of terms used to identify gated communities usually depends on whether the researcher focuses on one single type or a set of different gated communities. The terms used by researchers include: 'gated communities' (Blakely and Snyder, 197a; 197b; Davis, 192a; 192b; Landman, 2000a; 2000b; Low, 2003), 'gated enclaves' (Grant, 2003) and 'enclosed neighbourhoods' (Landman, 2000c). The definitions and perceptions as to what constitutes a gated community vary quite considerably; however, on the basis of the definition in the book Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (Blakely and Snyder, 197b), the first written documentation about gated communities, a general definition is set out as 'physical privatized areas with restricted entrance where outsiders and insiders exist'.

The recent examples of gated communities are shaped by global socio-economic changes, marketing strategies of developers (Webster, 2002) and the spreading of architectural concepts and lifestyles by international migration (Blakely and Snyder, 197b). Gated communities remained rare until the advance of the retirement developments of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which were centrally planned (Housing, City Planning, Land and Environmental Planning Department, 2003). Blakely and Snyder (197b) have demonstrated some 20,000 gated communities in the US accommodating over three million units (with seven to eight million residents), but more recent estimates (McGoey, 2003) have put the number of gated communities at more than twice that (Grant, 2003).

Walled and gated developments are not only an American phenomenon (Blandy et al., 2003). On the contrary, gated communities are a global phenomenon, albeit first documented in the United States (Blakely and Snyder, 197b), and are now developing in many countries (Grant and Mittelsteadt, 2004). Gated communities, scattered all around the world, differ from country to country with respect to their characteristics and in particular with respect to the different reasons of development, such as security, ethnicity and prestige (Akgün and Baycan, 2010). For instance, gated communities in the Untied States are an indispensable type of housing for American cities, mainly for urban elites (Blakely and Snyder, 197a; 197b). In contrast, in Latin American countries the phenomenon first emerged as summer resorts, which then became a solution for ethnic conflicts (Coy and Pöhler, 2002). …

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