Walking through instead of flying over: A way to see the flux of urbanization in Istanbul and other places?

Kohler, Martin. 2014. „Walking through in stead of flying over – a way to see the flux of urbanization in Istanbul and other places?“ in Walking the European City. Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
This chapter aims to discuss walking as a method of studying urban social space that can be used to interpret and explain city regions. In the first part I present references to the fields of aerial photography in urban theory and planning, the challenge of global urban diversity for urban analysis and especially comparison and walking as a multi-sensual experience of places as a “poor methodology.”
These fields situate the practice of “Stadtwanderungen” or Big Urban Walks that will be exemplified in the second part presenting the walk through Istanbul.

„The usefulness of walking-based research is more evident when the object of analysis is a large urban area. In these cases, maps and satellite images rely on highly aggregated data and only allow for the identification of visual patterns from a large distance. As an alternative, Chapter 8 proposes „big urban walks“ crossing whole metropolitan areas. This method produces information that while subjective, it is also coherent and systematic, and can be used to understand the complex social and physical factors behind the patterns observed in maps.“

Anciaes, Paulo Rui. 2014. „Walking in the European city: quotidian mobility and urban ethnography“. Urban Geography Book Review 2014 2014.

Guided Walking to Urban Transformations

Kohler, Martin. 2008. „Guided Walking to Urban Transformations“. Barcelona.

Walking „safaris“ into industrial wastelands, transformed into temporary art installation sites draws attention to the potential for rebirth and revitalization of places in limbo. Urban development is characterized by a kind of cycle and phases of prominent and favoured places of living and working on the one hand and less liked urban spaces on the other hand. Those areas are usually the problematic cases of urban planning and in many cases these areas are former industrial or harbour areas. The derelict landscapes show fragmented remains of formerly important symbols and uses. These shattered codes of past meaning can be used to create new meaning, new symbols and new patterns of activity. But the waiting land is not easy to access. The landscapes are confusing and empty, the possible future seems far away and is intangible. A translation for the history, the quality and the potential of the site is needed focusing on the real place in question. A possible way of translating the history and the future by walking is shown with site-specific art installations and guided walking tours to the abandoned land for future use.


Tagging Places

Kohler, Martin. 2006. „Tagging places: Transformation process – autonome use – site-specific art“. S. 71–75 in HAFENSAFARI4. Hamburg.


In the past few years, artistic projects in the abandoned and unused areas of Hamburg’s harbor – which is slowly being filled with new, urban uses – have positioned themselves as a way to make art part of daily life for Hamburg’s citizens.

In this context, off-scene projects have a tendency to end up in a no-man’sland between the media and economy with their interests in instrumentalisation on one hand, and their own artistic and political autonomy on the other. Some of these projects develop similar reactions on a strategic level, which have interesting relationships to today’s urban development projects…