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Public Space

There is a story that is told about the founding of Byzantium, now Istanbul. In the 7th century Greek colonists, led by King Byzas, were searching for a home for their people. Unsure of where to settle, Byzas went to the oracle of Delphi, who instructed him to lay roots across from the “land of the blind ones.” On such advice Byzas choose this land at the mouth of the Bosphorus, arguing that anyone who could have overlooked this place must surely have been blind.

And so this city grew to become the capital of the Roman Empire, the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Today, it is the third largest city proper in the world, marked by a coexistence of globalization and localization, modernity and tradition.

As a result of intense internal migration the city increased to 13 million inhabitants, a growth as informal as it was spontaneous. The simultaneous coexistence of extreme disparity, and a rapid change of the physical space, are sources of both social and cultural conflict as residents vie for the identity of this city.

In this context, there is an important discussion to be had about the role and meaning of public spaces. What do you think public space means for this city? How does it exist and function where you live?