…none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography…

Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings. -Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism

 

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A Questionable Robin Hood Story: Branded Housing Projects and Public-led Commodification of Urban Space

Abstract

Inequalities in urban space have been on the rise since the 1970s with global neoliberal restructuring processes. This rise in inequality fosters segregation in urban space which has become observable through gated enclaves. Housing enclaves became a way of urban space production in many countries. Aligning with this global trend, since the early 2000s, following the 2001 economic crisis, a new version of housing enclaves has been emerging in Turkey- branded housing projects. The projects are produced under certain brands as urban spatial commodities by private developers or public private partnerships, and widely use various types of advertising like any other commodity on the market. The role of state institutions in the production of this commodified and marketed form of housing provision is illustrative of the practices of the neoliberal state. This article[1] discusses branded housing projects in relation to the role of the developing neoliberal state in Turkey, firstly by giving an overview of the neoliberal urbanisation processes which Turkey has been going through; secondly by discussing the main characteristics of the projects; and thirdly by focusing on the role of public institutions in the production of such places, and criticizing the role of revenue-sharing model. The article thus questions the role of the neoliberal state in contemporary commodification of urban space in Turkey.

For full article on Research Turkey, click here

Serin B. (July, 2016), “A Questionable Robin Hood Story: Branded Housing Projects and Public-led Commodification of Urban Space ”, Vol. V, Issue 7, pp.06 – 23, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=12324)

Şaibeli Bir Robin Hood Hikâyesi: Markalı Konut Projeleri ve Kent Alanlarının Kamu Eliyle Metalaştırılması

Özet

Kentsel alandaki eşitsizlikler 1970’lerde küresel neoliberal yeniden yapılanma sürecinin başlamasından bu yana artagelmiştir. Eşitsizlikteki bu artış etrafı çevrili yaşam alanlarıyla (anklav) birlikte görünür hale gelen kentsel alanın ayrışmasını hızlandırmaktadır. Konut anklavları birçok ülkede kentsel alanın bir üretim yolu haline gelmiştir. Bu küresel trendle birlikte 2000’li yılların başlarından itibaren, özellikle 2001 krizi sonrası Türkiye’de konut anklavlarının yeni bir versiyonu olan ‘markalı konut projeleri’ ortaya çıkmıştır Bu projeler özel firmalar ya da kamu-özel işbirliği ile belli markalar altında geliştirilip piyasadaki diğer ürünler gibi çeşitli pazarlama yöntemlerini kullanmaktadır. Devlet kurumlarının bu metalaştırılan ve pazarlanan konut projelerinin üretimindeki rolü neoliberal devletin uygulamalarını anlama açısından açıklayıcıdır. Bu makale, öncelikle Türkiye’de meydana gelen neoliberal kentleşme sürecinin genel değerlendirmesini yaparak, ikinci olarak projelerin ana özelliklerini tartışarak, son olarak da kamu kurumlarının bu tür projelerin oluşumundaki rolüne odaklanarak ve gelir paylaşımı modelini eleştirerek markalı konut projelerini Türkiye’de neoliberal devletin gelişmesindeki rolü çerçevesinde incelemektedir. Çalışma, böylelikle neoliberal devletin Türkiye’deki kentsel alanın metalaşmasındaki rolünü irdelemektedir.

Research Turkey’de yayınlanan tam metin için tıklayınız

Makaleyi şu şekilde referans vererek kullanabilirsiniz:

Serin B. (Temmuz, 2016), “Şaibeli Bir Robin Hood Hikâyesi: Markalı Konut Projeleri ve Kent Alanlarının Kamu Eliyle Metalaştırılması”, Cilt V, Sayı 7, s.06 – 19, Türkiye Politika ve Araştırma Merkezi (Research Turkey), Londra: Research Turkey (http://researchturkey.org/?p=12324&lang=tr)

Meet Gurgaon: A Patch-work Private City without Sewage System

Gurgaon is a city in India, where many private housing enclaves are located and run by private management companies. With no municipal services, the private management companies provide key urban facilities only within the gates of the enclaves.

The practice draws a horrendous picture of the piecemeal private provision of municipal services, replacing sewage system with gigantic septic tanks, dumping sewage to public land, replacing police force with the army of private security, dodgy lost spaces between the housing enclaves…

A patchwork of private services emerges, but only within property lines. “If you’re living inside the development, everything looks great. It looks like you have functional sewage, but those lines are not connected to a main line. They go nowhere.” Instead, the sewage collects in a septic tank at the edge of the property. The building’s owner contracts a tanker truck to ferry the sewage to a dumping ground or river.

Gurgaon’s developers can weather shortages in electricity by using diesel-powered generators … which serve only their own properties. They’ve beefed up the city’s 4,000-strong police force with an army of 35,000 private security guards.  (ideas.ted.com)

Another controversial topic regarding this developments is their relationship with surrounding slum areas.

Sewage trucks will frequently bypass treatment plants and dump their contents on public land, and while it poses a health hazard to nearby slums, public officials don’t have the resources to counter such infractions.(ideas.ted.com)

What we see here is double exploitation of the urban space: on one hand, exclusive private provision of municipal services is hampering public provision; on the other hand, the enclaves expulse their unwanted bits to the surroundings such as dumping their sewage on public land.

All in all, we should ask ourselves, if we want to live in such an unsustainable dystopia before it is too late. Because this is what we are heading towards with a speed of light in this level of the commodification of urban space.

Ballardian Times

 

Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us. – J. G. Ballard

 

Meet Nigeria’s Private City: Same Story, Extreme Location

Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – a vision of privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms. Protected by guards, guns, and an insurmountable gully – real estate prices – the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising. A world in which the rich and powerful exploit the global ecological crisis to widen and entrench already extreme inequalities and seal themselves off from its impacts – this is climate apartheid. (Guardian)

 

Eco Atlantic is one of the mushrooming private cities all around the world. The pattern shows us an extreme version of rising inequalities. While the rest of the society struggles with the lack of urban services, this private island provides upper – middle classes all the services privately and exclusively. As it is argued in this Guardian article, this is a form of apartheid.

Unless accessing the key urban infrastructure is considered as a human right, we will see these extreme versions of ultra-exclusive spaces.

Video

Psychotic Spaces: Condo Commercials

Psychosis can bluntly be defined as a condition of losing touch with reality.

If we look at new condo commercials closely, they present truly psychotic spaces, spaces with no connection with reality.

One recent example is Redrow Condo commercial from London (below). The commercial was pulled after widespread criticism (Telegraph).

Another example is Quasar Istanbul commercial. We see everything in the promotional film, but the houses themselves. The thriller/horror movie trailer and a long one. The real deal starts after 00:52.

The two commercials show us examples of psychotic spaces framed in such commercials: spaces away from reality, wrapped with superpowers and unreal scenes.

Both make people feel that they are walking in delusions of a person…

Maybe it is time to come back to reality.

Another Brick…

Nut Brother, a performance artist from China, vacuumed Beijing’s heavily polluted air and turned it into a brick. The artist stood 4 hours a day 100 days to collect the dust in the air, then mixed the dust with clay and produced the bricj which symbolizes many aspects of this pollution.

 

(Image Credit: Quartz)

This symbolic acts tells us many things. But, his next step tells even more, giving the brick to a construction site to make it part of a new building in Beijing! He says this would be “just like putting a drop of water in the ocean” (Quartz),  a concrete ocean!

 

Segregation 2.0: We live side by side, but…

New York condo which seperates the entrances for the ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ residents has sparked a discussion of contemporary patterns of spatial segregation in the cities we live in.

Luxury Apartment Building Will Have Separate Door For Poor Residents

A luxury condo building on New York City’s Upper West Side has gotten clearance from the city to have a separate entrance, or a “poor door,” for low-income tenants, according to the New York Post.

Extell, which is building the 33-story complex, will build a specific door for the 55 affordable housing units it’s including in order to be allowed to build a bigger building. The low-income units, which are available to people making 60 percent of median income or less, will also be in a segment that only contains affordable apartments and that faces the street while the luxury apartments will face the river.

Details can be found in New York Post article (City OKs UWS development with ‘poor door’ for residents) and Business Insider articles (New York City Approves Controversial ‘Poor Door’ In Luxury Condo An NYC High Rise Is Putting In Separate Entrances For Rich And Poor Renters)

The New York condo is not the only example for poor doors. Such practice can be found in London condos, as well. See Poor doors: the segregation of London’s inner-city flat dwellers

Multimillion pound housing developments in London are segregating less well-off tenants from wealthy homebuyers by forcing them to use separate entrances.

One Commercial Street development

(Image Credit: Sarah Lee)

The image shows the One Commercial Street apartment’s ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ entrances. No need to mention which one is for whom.

This practice is a part of building affordable housing units in central areas of the cities where the land rents are at the highest points. In that sense, Owen Hatherley’s commentary in Guardian shows the contradictions of relying on private developers for affordable housing: ‘Poor doors’ show why we can’t rely on developers for affordable housing

Reformism in local government has a Faustian history, often involving shady deals, compromised principles and unexpected outcomes as much as successful attempts to establish social justice in cities.

On the other hand, this vertical segregation is not always part of affordability problematic. For example, Metropol Istanbul Project in Istanbul builds segregated enterances for VIPs and other residents. In the case of this project, it is not aimed to have any ‘affordable units’ (although affordability of the units in previous examples can also be questioned).This project is under-contruction now, and it is designed to have ‘VIP’ entrance for the residents who live on the upper floors than 30. This is going to be a segregation between the residents who will use common entrance together with home office users of the tower and the VIPs who will have their own special entrance.

(Image Credit: guncelprojebilgileri.com)

In that sense, we have segregation within the already-segregated-spaces, and so on.

The question can be posed here as why we are so willing to live in such ‘segregated’ or ‘special’ places;

and what was Maggie saying again, “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul“.