Experiencing city by walking: Communication elements

Istanbul, a city ruled by various civilisations and governments, is quite important both historically, geographically and rich in culture. Cultural activities and spaces within which these activities took place, influenced the city’s building stock, its landscape and organization. New buildings were constructed on top of the foundations of demolished ancestors. Traces of this foregoing layering, visible on the physical environment, has also spreaded to daily life, stories, imageries, culture, etc., while transforming them. These layers are not heterogeneous sys- tems within which the latter covers the former completely in a chronological way; but, heterogenous formations consisting of various densities and dominancies. This process-based “becoming”, explained with the notion of palimpsest, is one of the fundamental characteristics of the city of Istanbul. Walking act that can potentially foster dérive and détournement practices, depends on semiotics of the city as well as its physicality. The communication elements of the city and its contents such as color, typography and imagery, can be very decisive in terms of drifting (dérive) and twisting (détournement) intentions of city resident. In order for “transforming” cities by walking, residents have to be encouraged for making “discoveries”. City planners and relevant units should take into consideration that open-endedness, flexibility, transformability, vagueness and openness to surprises can increase the awareness of the user about the environment, by ensuring the permanence of the reflexivity between the city and the pedestrian. The purpose of this paper, is to discuss the potentials which could make this awareness a useful tool for transforming the city.

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