The Center produces projects for the future of the city with the contribution of the continuing studies about the city's development history .These projects are carried out on the basis of two main axes; conceptual projects that propose strategic approaches, to highlight the city's identity, to guide urban development with a holistic approach, to increase the quality of space and urban life, and implementation-oriented projects that take into consideration the current and the potential urban development strategies.
A. Conceptual Project Development
The conceptual projects that have been produced are;
A.1- Mersin Historic City Center Revitalization Strategy
Mersin Historic City Center Revitalization Strategy is a study aimed to revitalize urban qualities of Mersin as a trading and port city. It is anticipated that this study, through its holistic approach that aims to increase the spatial quality and the use value of Mersin Historic City Center, will provide a vital impetus to the city's social, cultural and economic development.
The revitalization of the city center and assigning new social and cultural functions in addition to commercial functions, serve to achieve an important contribution to the city's economy.
In the study, the participation of all stakeholders, citizens, authorities, and official and civil share holders was considered to be fundamental.
A.2- Çamlıbel Neighborhood Regeneration Project
Çamlıbel Neighborhood Regeneration Project was started with the residents of the Çamlıbel neighborhood that has a unique identity in Mersin, and the project is closely related to the Mersin Historic City Center Revitalization Strategy.
The project aims to strengthen the identity of Çamlıbel neighbourhood which was developed as a low density residential area at the end of the nineteenth century. It is located in the west of the city, alongside the sea coast as a result of capital accumulation in the city. In addition to improving the quality of settlement, it is planned to organize events like exhibitions, concerts, festivals etc. to contribute to the creation of a common neighbourhood identity. Furthermore, logo, website, establishment of a likelihood association are recommendations to create an institutional structure to neighbourhood identity. As a further step, guidelines were designed for the implementation of all of these steps.
B. Implementation-Oriented Project Development
Among the projects directly requested by local authorities is the "Tarsus Historic City Center Urban Design Project" that was prepared for Tarsus Municipality in conjunction with the Faculty of Architecture. The project involves identification of the basic interventions and methods development of the strategies, required for implementation.
The project area is carrying the features of a historic commercial center where traditional trade and crafts still persist. Due to its distinctive characteristics, the area appears to be a unique place within the whole urban fabric. The project area surrounded by cultural assets that each are constituents of the urban identity. These are Roman Road and Saint Paul's Well on its north, the Saint Paul Church and Gözlükule Mound on its south, the Cleopatra Gate on its west and the Prophet, Danyal Mosque, Makam Mosque on its east.
Developments in the city has led to deterioration of the distinctive characteristics of the area, loss of re-adaptability, viability, legibility and imageability due to the inadequate policies to protect the cultural and historical values. Today, the project area which is a significant part of the city of Tarsus with its historical, cultural, physical and functional features tend to lose its original character.
In order to highlight the historical importance of Tarsus, the project vision is to strengthen the historic identity by increasing the value and legibility of the urban pattern.
In order to strengthen the city's historic identity in the project area, the main objective is to rehabilitate the urban pattern as a whole, and historical and commercial buildings in particular. Furthermore, the project intends to increase the use value of the area so that the city's historical, cultural values will be the focus of attraction for both local people and visitors from outside of urban area. Additionally, it is aimed to keep the area livable by using and continuing unique qualities of the field.
Basically in this project, the aim is to refurbish, rehabilitate the historical and cultural assets in the area and to strengthen the relationship with surrounding urban pattern in order to sustain the historical and commercial identity of the project area.
At the outset of the project area the site analysis was completed, problems and opportunities were identified, questionnaires were carried out and face-to-face history interviews with local people were held. After field study, a series of outputs are produced. These are; a conceptual map to reveal the identity and the definition of urban area, and to construct the relationship of the surrounding urban pattern; a photo map to show the field construction and pattern; a functional map to demonstrate the land use and its distribution of the field; analysis maps related with the use of open space, urban landscape, property, solid-void relations, building heights, registered building, construction quality, transportation and accessibility.
After the analysis, sub-regions carrying distinctive characteristics are defined as program areas of the project of which the boundaries are specified.
In the next step, the general design approach and principles were identified. In the further phase, they were detailed within the defined program areas, and the principles were adapted to street, plot, facade and building design.
Urban Design Approach and Principles of the Project:
Urban design principles to achieve purposes and objectives of the project are:
VI.A. Strengthening the Characteristics of the Area:
A.1. Protection and development of site-specific landscape
A.2. Improvement of site-specific qualities, determination of conditions for preservation development of measures to reuse the deteriorated building.
A.3. Protection of the unique street pattern of the area.
A.4. Use of building materials and construction techniques prevalent in the area.
A.5. Maintaining the traditional commercial uses as a constituent of local cultural values.
VI.B. Ensuring diversity in the field
B.1. Ensuring collocation of interrelated uses
B.2. Ensuring diversity and enabling vitality
B.3. Providing a new land use pattern to make the area to be used throughout the day.
VI.C. User Participation in Design Process
C.1. The establishment of initiatives for the local people in the area
C.2. Ensuring active roles to the users for analysis, decision making and implementation stages
C.3. Communication with users to reflect the local identity of the project area
Studies during the Project
Studies during the Project are;
VII.A. Site Survey:As the first phase of the project, current condition and specific characteristics of the project area are searched;
- meaning, significance and position of the project area within the urban context,
- photographs related with current conditions of the buildings, uses and users,
- ownership status,
- urban landscape,
- public space,
- registered buildings,
- building heights,
- building quality.
All the data acquired during the site-survey were mapped.
Problems and opportunities for the project area and its close environs were identified in accordance with the findings of the site survey, questionnaire studies and the face to face interviews with users.
VII.B. Analysis Phase:The findings of the site-survey were evaluated in the meetings, held with enhancement of municipal officers and users in accordance with the project vision, objectives and aims. As a result, the problems and expectations are identified and visualised through maps.
VII.C. Implementation Principles:In relation to the findings of site survey and the implementation analysis, principles are produced. According to the scope of the project, they were detailed in different scales from the whole project area to plots and buildings. “Guideline for Implementation” has been prepared to steer all kinds of physical interventions to the Tarsus Historic City Center.
VII.D. Identification of Key-Project Areas:
The “Key Project Areas”, having the priority of intervention, are identified as the constituents of a triggering mechanism for the revitalization of the project area. These are “Kemer Kapı Entry Project”, “Konak Square Project”, “Gözlükule Entry Gate Project”, “Gön Hanı Bazaar Project” and “Kuyumcular Street Pedestrization Project”.
These studies facilitated formulation of implementation principles and basic intervention strategies in order to produce implementation projects to revive Tarsus Historic City Center.