Newsletter articles NUM 3


Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits.

Ecumenopolis is a word invented in 1967 by the Greek city planner Constantinos Doxiadis to represent the idea that in the future urban areas and megalopolises would eventually fuse and there would be a single continuous worldwide city as a progression from the current urbanization and population growth trends.

The neoliberal transformation that swept through the world economy during the 1980’s, and along with it the globalization process that picked up speed, brought with it a deep transformation in cities all over the world. For this new finance-centered economic structure, urban land became a tool for capital accumulation, which had deep effects on major cities of developing countries. In Istanbul, which already lacked a tradition of principled planning, the administrators of the city blindly adopted the neoliberal approach that put financial gain ahead of people’s needs; everyone fought to get a piece of the loot; and the result is a megashantytown of 15 million struggling with mesh of life-threatening problems.
Especially in the past 10 years, as the World Bank foresaw in its reports, Istanbul has been changing from an industrial city to a finance and service-centered city, competing with other world cities for investment. Making Istanbul attractive for investors requires not only the abolishment of legal controls that look out for the public good, but also a parallel transformation of the users of the city. This means that the working class who actually built the city as an industrial center no longer have a place in the new consumption-centered finance and service city. So what is planned for these people?

This is where the “urban renewal” projects come into play. Armed with new powers never before imagined, TOKI (State Housing Administration), together with the municipalities and private investors, are trying to reshape the urban landscape in this new vision. With international capital behind them, land plans in their hands, square meters and building coefficients in their minds, they are demolishing neighborhoods, and instead building skyscrapers, highways and shopping malls. But who do these new spaces serve?
The huge gap between the rich and the poor in Istanbul is reflected more and more in the urban landscape, and at the same time feeds on the spatial segregation. While the rich isolate themselves in gated communities, residences and plazas; new poverty cycles born in social housing communities on the prifery of the city designed as human depots continue to push millions to desperation and hopelessness. So who is responsible for this social legacy that we are leaving for future generations?

While billions of dollars are wasted on new road tunnels, junctions, and viaducts with a complete disregard for the scientific fact that all new roads eventually create their own traffic, Istanbul in 2010 has to contend with a single-line eight-station metro “system”. Due to insufficient budget allocations for mass public transportation, rail and other alternative transport systems, millions of people are tormented in traffic, and billions of dollars worth of time go out the exhaust pipe. What do our administrators do? You guessed right: more roads!

Everything changes so fast in this city of 15 million that it is impossible to even take a snap-shot for planning. Plans are outdated even as they are being made. A chronic case of planlessness. Meanwhile, the population keeps increasing and the city expands uncontrollably pushing up against Tekirda? in the east and Kocaeli in the west. But does Istanbul really have a plan?
In 1980 the first plan for Istanbul on a metropolitan scale was produced. In that plan report, it is noted that the topography and the geographic nature of the city would only support a maximum population of 5 million. At the time, Istanbul had 3.5 million people living in it. Now we are 15 million, and in 15 years we will be 23 million. Almost 5 times the sustainable size. Today we bring water to Istanbul from as far away as Bolu, and suck-up the entire water in Thrace, destroying the natural environment there. The northern forest areas disappear at a rapid pace, and the project for a 3rd bridge over the Bosphorous is threatening the remaining forests and water reservoirs giving life to Istanbul. The bridges that connect the two continents are segregating our society through the urban land speculation that they trigger. So what are we, the people of Istanbul, doing against this pillage? If cities are a reflection of the society, what can we say about ourselves by looking at Istanbul? What kind of city are we leaving behind for future generations?

Ecological limits have been surpassed. Economic limits have been surpassed. Population limits have been surpassed. Social cohesion has been lost. Here is the picture of neoliberal urbanism: Ecumenopolis.
Ecumenopolis aims for a holistic approach to Istanbul, questioning not only the transformation, but the dynamics behind it as well. From demolished shantytowns to the tops of skyscrapers, from the depths of Marmaray to the alternative routes of the 3rd bridge, from real estate investors to urban opposition, the film will take us on a long journey in this city without limits. We will speak with experts, academics, writers, investors, city-dwellers, and community leaders; and we will take a look at the city on a macro level through animated maps and graphics. Perhaps you will rediscover the city that you live in and we hope that you will not sit back and watch this transformation but question it. In the end this is what democracy requires of us.


All info is from the film's website:

RTPI has launched its new-look site with additional features, new copy and a more modern presentation. The structure is simpler, making key information more prominent and we hope you will find the new site easier to navigate so you find what you are looking for more quickly.

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Science for Environment Policy

Soil Sealing: effects on urban flooding and temperatures explored in new report

A report exploring the effects of covering the land with artificial surfaces has just been published online by Science for Environment Policy.

It is free to download from:

Sealing natural land with paving, housing, car parks and other impenetrable surfaces prevents soil from performing its vital services for society, and can lead to increased flood risk and elevated city temperatures.

This In-depth Report summarises and collates current research on ‘Soil Sealing’. It highlights major issues and concerns, particularly for urban temperatures and the water cycle, as well as outlining existing responses and possible strategies for the future.

In-depth Reports are a new series of publications from Science for Environment Policy, a service from the European Commission, which comprehensively report on the latest research concerning key policy issues.

Science for Environment Policy also publishes a free weekly News Alert which rounds up the latest policy-relevant research. To subscribe:

The European Council of Spatial Planners - Conseil Européen des Urbanistes (ECTP-CEU) are running a workshop on “Planning and Territorial Cohesion" in conformity with the principles of territorial cohesion elaborated in the institutions of the European Union to bring Young Planners throughout Europe to exchange visions and experiences of spatial planning.

The programme comprises of virtual workshops held between April and December 2012 seeking to examine topics such as: urban systems of cities; influences of changing population on occupation and  housing; specific questions regarding cross border areas; territorial development of uninhabited rural areas, using case studies of different regions across Europe chosen by each national group.  It will culminate in a presentation at the ETCP-CEU General Meeting in Brussels in December 2012.

The Workshop are formed by  planners from United Kingdom  (Royal Town Planning Institute), Spain (Master on Planning in University of Zaragoza) France Collectif National des Jeunes Urbanistes); Norway (Human Geography University Of Oslo) and Ireland (Irish Planning Institute) to share ideas about how to better exploit regional potential and territorial capital in working towards sustainable development in assessing its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to develop debates about issues surrounding territorial cohesion in European regions.

Groups are working on different areas and different topics but under a common perspective on “How planning strategies can influence territorial cohesion?”


See also the Workshop online blog:


Intelligent Energy – Europe (IEE) offers a helping hand to organisations willing to improve energy sustainability. Launched in 2003 by the European Commission, the programme is part of a broad push to create an energy-intelligent future for us all. It supports EU energy efficiency and renewable energy policies, with a view to reaching the EU 2020 targets (20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, 20% improvement in energy efficiency and 20% of renewables in EU energy consumption).

Intelligent Energy – Europe creates better conditions for a more sustainable energy future in areas as varied as renewable energy, energy-efficient buildings, industry, consumer products and transport.

The expectation is that by doing this, Europe will also boost its competitiveness, security of energy supply, and innovation standing for the years to come.

Running until 2013, the programme is open to all EU Member States, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A budget of € 730 million is available to fund projects and put into place a range of European portals, facilities and initiatives.

IEE project funding

A large part of the programme budget is made available through annual calls for proposals to support projects putting the concept of 'intelligent energy' in practice. Carried out by public, private or non-governmental European organisations, they support three main objectives - more energy efficiency, more renewables, and better transport and mobility. This covers for instance new training schemes, promotion campaigns, or the transfer of good practices between EU countries.

The 'Funding areas' section explains which types of actions are eligible for funding.

To find out how to apply please refer to the 'Getting funds' section of this website.

The 'In action' section shows how IEE is making real changes to our daily lives.

IEE portals, financing facilities and special initiatives

In addition to funding projects which are selected through calls for proposals, the IEE programme includes a wide range of additional mechanisms to convert EU policy objectives into action and trigger tangible results on the ground. These can be grouped into European portals, the ELENA financing facilities andspecial initiatives.

Who runs the programme?

Most parts of the IEE programme are run by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation(EACI) on behalf of the European Commission. The ELENA financing facilities are run by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the KfW Group.

The programme is a pillar of the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).

Check out the Intelligent Energy – Europe at a glance pdf - 240 KB [240 KB] [240 KB] document for more information.