Landscape and Urban Design Project Competition of İzmit Waterfront
An Ecological Coastal Line to Izmit
Izmit found itself thrown in a rapid process of industrialization starting from the 1950s and bears the traces of an unplanned urban development that undermined its urban identity. Rather than a mere waterfront development putting make-up on the city, the project looks for answers towards making Izmit a livable and sustainable city. The emphasis is on strategic planning initiatives that will range from small-scale urban configuration to the metropolitan, regional, and supra-regional (river basin) scale and to pump fresh blood to the veins of the city.
The river in the eastern corridor of Izmir, heading from the Sapanca Lake to the Izmit Bay, currently serves a mainly agricultural purpose (both wet and dry farming), and tries to sustain its status as the agricultural production center of the region with its most fertile farming soil. This river basin is also home to many wetland ecosystems featuring a very rich bio-diversity. However, a non-continuous wetland ecosystem cannot exist for long.
The Central Business District (CBD/MIA) to the east of the project area and to the south of the D100 highway, Urban Social Service Areas (USS/KSD), Industrial Area (IA/SAN), Extra-Residential Urban Work Areas (ERUWA/KDKCA) and Storage Areas (S/D) were rejected, and were instead replaced with ecological restoration efforts. Within this framework, it would be wise to support ecological, bio-diesel and bio-waste agriculture. A three-layer protection scheme was designed around the wetlands: an area closed to visitors at all times and reserved for scientific research; a limited-access visitor area that will be closed during the reproduction and spawning periods of the water birds; and passive recreation and bird observation spots that will be open to visitors year-round, provided with a set of rules.
The design decisions along the Izmit Bay waterfront between Derince and Karamürsel prioritizes pedestrians. Green fingers perpendicular to the sea extend into the residential areas. The footprint of the industrial and storage areas proposed to be cast away from the city center will be taken over by residential structures, acting as ‘urban magnets’ balancing nature and the city. The elevated main pedestrian promenade of the project, ‘Ecological Coastal Line’, runs as a unique green bridge penetrating the heart of the city. The terminal point for the main pedestrian promenade is the new square of Izmit, named after ancient Nicomedia. Nicomedia Congress and Culture Center will be the new symbol building of Izmit with its architectural form.
In the city center, Hürriyet Caddesi, also known as Eski Demiryolu Caddesi, is transformed into a major pedestrian boulevard laden with light rail and bicycle routes. The tram line starts from the bus station and end at the ‘Transfer Hub’ proposed to the east of Sekapark, while the bicycle route starts from Derince and split into two axes by Sekapark. The first axis will continue to the pedestrian boulevard in the north and terminate at the bus station, while the second axis will run along the coast after Sekapark and end at Karamürsel. While passing Izmit from end to end, the monorail will enable the city’s residents to use the recreation areas more comfortably and will be a critical mass transportation option connecting the surrounding settlements.