Coastal retreat

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David Green, principal for architecture firm Perkins+Will, speaks to Passenger Terminal World about the masterplan design for a 1,700-acre (2.66 square miles) airport city being developed alongside Istanbul New Airport in Turkey.

Why is there a need to build a mixed-use urban development Airport City next to Istanbul New Airport? The Airport City masterplan is an interesting project because there is a great deal of expansion taking place in Istanbul right now. As a piece of infrastructure, Istanbul New Airport is tied to the third bridge, which is a highway connection across the eastern end of the Bosphorus River. This will create a transportation loop that the airport city will be a part of. There is also a need to expand the urban environment in Istanbul, so we need to build an airport city that is different from others around the world. Most of these airport cities are logistics-centered endeavors that are typically tied to businesses that take advantage of their proximity to the airport. The Istanbul New Airport city will do the same, but will also operate as a city with a university, hospital, offices, retail outlets, hotels and a very large cultural component including a performing arts center. The university will also have some form of student housing in the core area adjacent to the airport.

What are the main criteria of the masterplan?

Primarily it’s about economic development so people will be drawn to the area for conventions as well as academic and economic purposes. Beyond that it’s about flexibility in accommodating future development, but in a way that makes environmental sense for the Black Sea coastal areas affected by the new highway.

Where are things up to with the project?

We have four months to deliver a schematic masterplan and then we’ll be doing more detailed work after that, but it will give IGA Havalimanı İşletmesi (IGA) enough information to start the engineering for the infrastructure works and to begin building some of the project. IGA is already preparing the hotel tenders to get everything arranged as soon as possible. Like any project, there’s a lot of overlap, so four months is a deliverable date for something that will be an ongoing process. The schematic will be fairly detailed and will have guidelines in place for development, buildings and infrastructure. It will also tie in environmental market studies and will contain a broad transportation platform, which will be developed further as we progress.

What will connectivity be like with the airport?

The airport is being conceived as an old city center train station where you walk out of the station and you’re in the city. That isn’t the case with the majority of modern airports which are located miles away from anything, but we’re setting it up so after you leave the terminal you’re walking directly into an urban city. It’s not designed yet, but the idea is that there will be a unifying promenade/boulevard that runs from the terminal to the offices and hotels. So you can move from the aircraft into the airport city without having to get a taxi or a plane. However if you want to get into the center of Istanbul or Ankara, then you will be able to easily access the national and regional high-speed rail system. This means that travelers will be able to skip all of the Istanbul traffic or get to Ankara quickly for a transfer if needed. It’s a very different way of thinking about an airport city as we’re building a city first and then seeing how that links into the airport.

What considerations will be made regarding sustainability and the environment?

IGA hired an environmental group that contained academics from the Turkish university system. They have helped research into what flora and trees can be reconstituted as we need to make sure that they attract the right type of birds, or no birds at all because of the flight path. We will also be looking to bring the numbers of certain species up where we can, but we need to make sure that operations can continue and that safety isn’t compromised.

We will be building on top of an old mining effort and will therefore be reconstituting to a great extent the natural environment that was there. One might imagine that 70% of the natural environment gets reconstituted and 30% of what used to be mines turns into a sustainably driven urban environment.

Because the coast is an environmentally sensitive area, we will be setting up a system of smaller urban developments outside of the core hospitality piece, that are connected by roads, trains and the new highway, so the impact to the natural environment will be minimized.

How will you create a sense of place for passengers?

We have a lot of experience in capturing the historical nature of Turkish culture due to our numerous projects undertaken in the country. In Galata and Istikal in Istanbul, there’s a high level of connectivity and walkability and we are trying to capture that in the airport city. There will also be some stylistic latitude in the guidelines we set up, so there could be references to Ottoman culture, for example.

From an urban design perspective, our goal is to create something that is not too dissimilar from Istikal or Galata, where you feel comfortable walking through it but that still accommodates modern or contemporary development. One of the main components of the project will be a large botanical garden and forest, which will be integrated into the urban environment.

Interview by Daniel Symonds

November 13, 2015

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for our magazines and websites. Away from the office, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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