Istanbul : world-city in 2023 ?

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The government set its target, Turkey must be part of the World’s 10 biggest economies by 2023, year of the 100th birthday of the turkish Republic.

Ali Agaoglu, President of the Agaoglu company (developer), says : “3rd touristic destination in Europe after London and Paris, Istanbul, becoming a world-city, widely promotes our country”.

The city accounts for approximately 20% of the total population, 27% of the country’s economic output, 40% of tax revenues and half of Turkish exports and imports (source : Todayszaman.com).

At the core of an international transportation network, sea trade routes to the Black Sea and motorway junction between Asia and Europe, Istanbul is one of the most frequented logisitic platform in the world.

As any attractive metropolis, Istanbul has to deal with urban issues. So far, traffic jam is certainly one of the main developpement constraint for the city.

However a railway public transportation project, linking both asian and european banks operating under the Bosphorus « Marmaray », should deeply enhance inhabitants’ mobility by 2014. North, a third bridge, feeding local argument about the environmental futur of the metropolis, is under construction.

In 2011, the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made public his will to equip Istanbul with a canal in order to release the Bosphorus : « Kanal Istanbul”.

Early 2013, the Minister of Transportation, Binali Yildirim, launched the construction of a third airport aiming at becoming the world’s largest airport with a capacity of 150 million passengers.

Planned to be completed by 2015, Maslak 1453, located on the european side, is the largest mixed development in Europe with 2,39 million square yards (source : prima luxury).  It will include 4800 residences, shopping malls entertainment and cultural spaces.

Recently beaten by Tokyo to host the 2020 summer olympic games, local authorities had foreseen that major sport event to support their planning program.

All those projects in progress show the hard work of the turkish authorities to fit with international urban standards and establish, in long a term, Istanbul as a world-city.

To attract funds, vital to the development of the megalopolis and the country, Istanbul aims at being part of the main world financial operators in a near future.

Competing with megalopolis as Shanghai, Singapour or Dubaï, the gouvernment charged the architectural firm HOK to plan the Istanbul International Financial Center. The planning-program was approved in 2009.

Mixing with offices, residences, malls, services, entertainment, educative and cultural spaces, the Istanbul International Financial Center is a project of 4,2 million square yards (3,3 million m2) on a site of 173 acres (70 hectares). Mostly focused on banking industry, the site has been planned to work as a self-sufficient urban space.

The architecture is inspired by the turkish tradition and history. To make it easily accessible, metro stations and new ring roads have been planned. Its works construction have already started in the district of Ataşehir on the asian side. It should be delivered by 2016. The investment costs have been estimated at $ 5 billion (source le nouvel observateur).

To attract international funds for its growth, Istanbul will need more than a financial center fitting with world standards. It will have to be seducing.

Other urban aspects have to be taken into consideration in Istanbul’s attractiveness. Employment access, environmental care, quality of education, mass transit and public amenities, services offer (cultural, administrative, entertainment), level of international connections, city security and so on… are features as decisive as financial aspects in metropolis well-run.

Equiped with planning tools promoting its attractiveness, Istanbul has now all the potential to shape itself an attractive urban setting in order to be competitive with the international urban high-fliers.

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