On Thursday November 21 Alessandra Ricci will give a timely lecture at Rutgers University in New Jersey that will explore what became of the Byzantine archaeological heritage that French architect and urbanist Henri Prost wanted to incorporate into his urban representation of modern Istanbul.
‘In the 1930s, at the formal invitation of the Turkish Government and following the relocation of the capital from Istanbul to Ankara, Prost was asked to prepare the former capital's Master Plan. Prost's projected transformations for the city placed at the forefront a process of public beautification. The focal points of this new concept of urban beauty were the ‘espaces libres’, or public open spaces, two of which were designated as urban archaeological parks. The Master Plan envisioned these archaeological parks as areas that would be genuinely free and open to all of Istanbul’s residents. Ancient monuments would serve as the backdrop, and oftentimes the centerpiece, for the recent and modernist interpretation of Turkey's newly acquired social organisation. The city's Byzantine monumental heritage was to be at the heart of both parks. While neither of the archaeological parks became a reality, one of Prost's public green esplanades, the Inönü or Gezi Park in Taksim, was completed and rapidly emerged as the ‘validator’ of the Turkish Republic's new society.’
Alessandra Ricci is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at Koç University, and is an active proponent in the fight to save the Yedikule bostans.
The lecture, presented on behalf of Rutgers University's Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies Program, Modern Greek Studies Program and the Department of Art History, will take place at the Zimmerli Art Museum's Maxwell Multi-Purpose Room, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ, commencing at 4.15pm.