A well-known metropolitan district located in the historic city of Izmir, the third most populous city in Turkey, Bayrakli has garnered a name for itself in the architectural and urban planning world as an example city for sustainable urban development. The district which was once covered in vehicular pollution and unplanned traffic systems of walkways and roadways with very little breathing space for the inhabitants has now transformed into a greener environment with the urban fabric incorporating the daily lifestyle of the people and giving them space for different activities.

Bayrakli: Sustainability of Urban Development Sheet1
Bayrakli, as seen from the Aegean Sea._©Ö.Toygar (2020).

As a consequence of discussions (first with the United Nations and then other European models for development), concentrated on creating sustainable urban environments, Izmir and its town of Bayrakli joined hands with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development strengthening their commitment to planning an urban space that is green, sustainable and people-friendly. The developed program will look into facilitating greener public transportation, better water, and waste management systems, and make the city more livable.

Bayrakli seafront development._© S.Ana.

Geography of Bayrakli

Map showing Bayrakli._© Ö. Asli Ceylan, P. Burkay (2015).

Bayrakli is located close to the Aegean Sea, blessing it with breathtaking views. With warm winds flowing into the district the summers are hot and sunny while the winters can be rainy, with milder temperatures. It also experiences heavy seismic activities restricting unusually heavy structural activities and building typologies. The town has a mildly hilly terrain and the Nezih Dağdelen Forestation Area divides it along the middle.

Bayrakli metropolitan district is part of a larger Bayrakli area which is divided into 23 localities with four the largest ones meeting the shoreline. Most of the 306988 population density falls closer to the shoreline of the Aegean Sea with the Gümüśpala, Adalet, Manavkyuyu, and Osmangazi regions holding more than two-thirds of the population of the district. 

Urban Development of Bayrakli

In 2001, an urban design competition was held, the winning project of which (Jochen Brandi, German) was used as a baseline to configure and plan the development of the Izmir region, most of which was concentrated in the newly formed district of Bayrakli (officially announced in 2008). Places were designated for the public and government buildings, trade and tourism centers, business centers, and other mixed-use developments. 

The urban redevelopment of Bayrakli has led to the production of urban spaces that are concerned with tackling environmental issues and implementing the development of regenerated urban areas, continuously developing business sectors, and tourism-orientated facilities. Implementation of a redesigned transportation structure has given the streets back to the public enabling more people to participate in the vibrant community life. During the evenings the population can be seen strolling along the streets, engaging in various economic and civic activities. Construction of parks and gardens provide escape spots from the harsher climate, bringing the public out to eat and enjoy an evening in the company of each other.

Giving the streets back to the public_© W. Ben (2015).

These developments, apart from being people-friendly and community-engaging, are also planned sustainably. Public opinions and involvement, careful resource planning, and an eye on the urban requirements of the future generations are some of the key points an architect will find upon studying the urban fabric. 

Seafronts, for example, have been utilized by planning large parks and children’s play areas with an eye on safety. Small bridges along the coast keep the public engaged with the sea and intimate movement. In the business sectors, high-rise towers like the Folkart Towers have been contracted sustainably, with a concern for sea winds and seismic activity kept in mind. These are not isolated from the urban fabric but form a part of it. 

Urban development chart for Izmir._© bogaziciproje.com.tr

Building a Sustainable Urban Fabric

The stages of development show a lot of questionnaires that were prepared and the answers from them involved in the designing stage of the city. The majority of the urban population comes from the low socio-economic and cultural classes. Another similar model of data influx depicted the heavy use of the seafront by the city dwellers wherein often people would come to sit or picnic on the beaches and nearby places. This led to a major redevelopment of the seafronts. 

Challenges were poised in the form of a shipyard, industrial buildings, and the heavy noise and air pollution that arose from the city quarters. Moreover, after sunset, a lot of the places faced safety issues. The urban planners and architects created safe and easily accessible pedestrian accesses to the beachfront, with projections that visually connected the beach with the city to give a sense of security. Moreover, artificial hills and green areas were created to mitigate much of the noise from the inner districts which also helped in providing fresh air.

Bayrakli Coast Pedestrian Bridge_© ZM. Yasa (2019).

Towards the inner districts, the urban fabric started seeing more high-rise developments which are essentially conducive to any urban redevelopment plans in Asia. Yet, these mixed-use structures were planned to encourage and introduce an upper-class economic section, with luxury condos and apartments, office spaces, and shopping malls.

A physical divide is visible between the seafront and the inner districts. This divide is further strengthened by structural blocks of high-rise towers with shopping districts that contrasted with the low-lying open seafront. While the developments may not follow socially sustainable principles they do, to a larger extent, follow environmentally sustainable principles. 

Here are some projects showcasing sustainable Urban Development in Bayrakli:

1. Bayrakli Tower

Bayrakli Tower is a 23-story office block. Built by Kreatif Architects in 2010, the tower employs several factors in its design that helps to implement a sustainable footprint in its construction. A custom-designed panel profile system clads the facade of the structure which is firm, about 50% more earthquake resistant, solar reflective and wind-resistant. 

The panels also require less maintenance. A flexible interior planning system helps the offices to structure their setup according to their needs, giving the inhabitants the freedom of choice to dictate private and shared spaces.

Bayrakli Tower_© Özüm İtez (2012).

A partially green terrace has been constructed on the first floor of the tower that helps pedestrians and office workers stroll and now the recreational space. The tower itself is set back from the street line, creating a space for the public to and rest all the while housing retail spaces on the ground floor. 

Moreover, a bar on the top of the tower serves all residents of the city after business hours are over. Thus the mixed-use building develops the urban environment of Bayrakli by connecting the public to its structures, initiating social integration, and maintaining visual contact with the street and the district.

Public Space developed on the first floor of the Bayrakli Tower_© Özüm İtez (2012).

2. Mistral Office Tower/Mistral Izmir

With an area of 122,000 square meters, the Mistral Izmir comprises a 48-storey office tower and a 38-storey residential tower built on a 2-storey shopping mall. It has been awarded two LEED certificates and figures as an icon for the redevelopment program of Bayrakli. The tower has in place a double façade system that helps in controlling the solar and thermal gain and intake of the building, consequently reducing the heating and cooling costs in the long term. 

The structural framework is made up of composite steel, a durable and recyclable material. A greywater purification system has also been installed in the two buildings to recycle the wastewater, storing it in reservoirs to use for irrigation of the surrounding green areas.

Mistral Izmir Towers_© wikimapia.org

A recreational green zone, planned under further development features dense planting, pedestrian paths and bridges, cycling paths, and seating areas for the public. Moreover, in an attempt to connect the public with the infrastructure of the district, the pedestrian bridges will span into the other districts connecting other buildings, public squares, and transportation services in the urban fabric. This goes to show the use of both environmentally and socially sustainable principles being applied in the urban development of Bayrakli.

The redevelopment and consequent sustainable improvement of Bayrakli have presented urban developers and architects with an example to follow. The variable factors of economic, social, and cultural development along with multifaceted issues of safety, privacy, and public space have challenged Bayrakli and one can conclude that the city planners have quite successfully tackled these. 

Community cohesion and identity have increased and tourism and trade have become prominent while the city’s inhabitants have access to jogging tracks, cycling lanes, pedestrian bridges, and well-structured transportation. Green areas and well-accessed and safe public spaces have revitalized the city while development on Bayrakli’s seafront has given the public more control of their urban fabric.


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Adriel is a spatial designer who believes writing about design is just as important as the design itself. He believes that architecture and design are instruments of human expression which ought to be unfolded to enable a deeper connection with our surroundings.

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