New Hampshire Public Radio recently featured the ice castle work of Brent Christensen. Check out the story here.
When I first saw the now-famous “lady in the red dress” photo from the Gezi Park protest in Turkey, I had no idea that the protester was an urban planning professor from the nearby Technical University in Istanbul named Ceyda Sungur. In Luke Harding’s account in The Guardian, one of the origins of the protest, and the spark that set it off, is clearly the destruction of one of the very few green spaces in Istanbul. Harding describes it as a sort of final straw, a highly visible, in-your-face insult to the wishes of the urban population from top-down urban development decisions being made by the government.
Sungur’s urban planning department had long wrestled with the theme of how to reconcile Turkey’s economic and building boom with the fundamental needs of citizens. A petition which she and other members of the architecture faculty signed says that the rapid changes to Istanbul threaten not only “our professional field but also our living environment”. The petition adds: “All these top-down decisions disregarding planning and urban management principles are not approved by Istanbul’s citizens. We don’t accept them.”
Akgün, Sungur’s colleague, said: “The park is one of the last surviving green public spaces here. It’s calming to walk through it. You feel good.” Typically, Erdogan’s government had taken an “upside-down” approach to planning, she said, building first and considering the consequences afterwards. Akgün said she respected Sungur’s reluctance to become a poster girl for the anti-government protest movement, less of a revolution than a spontaneous citizens’ revolt.
Virtually all of Sungur’s students have taken part in the protests. Some of them are sitting finals; the dean refused a plea for exams to be postponed. On Wednesday, several of them were tinkering with architectural models in a large room next to her office. Others sat in a shady courtyard below and talked softly.
Akgün admitted: “I’ve been trying to teach my students for four years about the importance of urban planning. Now they finally understand what we are saying.”
That tiny speck is Venus, as seen through Saturn’s rings. Captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Along the way, the poor are crushed. It’s an old story. From today’s NY Times:
Many said they were given 20 minutes, at most, to pack up their belongings.
“Everybody was running helter-skelter,” said a resident, Femi Aiyenuro, adding that those who went back in to retrieve possessions risked being beaten with rifle butts and batons. “They started beating people.”
What little that could be salvaged was piled along a railway line running along Badia’s edge.
“They were flogging me,” said Charity Julius, 27 and pregnant. She said she ran into her dwelling to fetch her baby boy, and once he was safely out, she ran back to gather as many possessions as she could. The police did not like that and beat her, she said, showing a bruise on her right arm as evidence.
The Lagos state commissioner for housing, Adedeji Olatubosun Jeje, provided a different version of events.
“It’s a regeneration of a slum,” he said. “We gave enough notification. The government intends to develop 1,008 housing units. What we removed was just shanties. Nobody was even living in those shanties. Maybe we had a couple of squatters living there.”