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The rebuilding of Istanbul after the plan of Henri Prost, 1937-1960: From secularisation to Turkish modernisation

Akpinar, Ipek; (2003) The rebuilding of Istanbul after the plan of Henri Prost, 1937-1960: From secularisation to Turkish modernisation. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The design of cities formed an important part of the programme of the new Turkish nation-state. Initially, the Republic built a new capital at Ankara, but increasingly in the 1930s the attention of politicians and city planners shifted back to the old Ottoman capital, Istanbul. The mid-20th century reconstruction of Istanbul falls into two phases. Initially in 1936, the experienced French urban designer Henri Prost was invited by President Atatürk to prepare a master plan for Istanbul. Parts of Prost's plan were implemented over the fifteen years, and he continued to revise and develop the plan in ways that are described in the thesis, until in 1950 following the victory of the Democrat Party in the elections, he was dismissed. This marks the beginning of the second phase of the reconstruction of Istanbul; responsibility for the city plan was put in the hands of Turkish nationals, who revised Prost's plan. In 1956, Prime Minister Adnan Menderes took over personal responsibility for the reconstruction and there followed in the next four years, until his fall from power, a period of intensive road building, street widening, demolition of old buildings and construction of new ones. This thesis provides a chronological account of these events, and puts forward three main arguments about them. Firstly, it shows that although the second phase from 1950 was presented as free from the influence of foreign experts, and under the direction of Turkish nationals, there was in fact much continuity between Prost's plan and works carried out under Menderes. Secondly, it argues that the motive for the reconstruction of Istanbul in the 1950s came from a desire to assert Turkish leadership in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thirdly, it shows that the form of Prost's plan, and of the reconstruction carried out under Menderes closely resembled Western European and American town planning models, and indeed were largely derived from them, nonetheless that within the Turkish context they took on specifically Turkish meanings. The works carried out under Prost allowed the politics of secularisation pursued by the Republic to be made visible in the city. Over the works carried out during Menderes's premiership, there has been a controversy as to whether these were part of a policy of creating a distinctively Turkish form of modernity, that included the weakening of the power of the ethnic minorities, traditionally forming the largest part of Istanbul's population. However, using new research from cadastral records, the thesis shows that there is no evidence that building demolitions or the creation of new streets favoured Turkish nationals, or disadvantaged ethnic minorities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The rebuilding of Istanbul after the plan of Henri Prost, 1937-1960: From secularisation to Turkish modernisation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Istanbul; Turkey
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106165
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