Ben U'Sen, a consolidated illegal settlement

Diyarbakir 2011 / Turkey
Professionnal workshop
8 October 2011 / 22 October 2011

In Turkey, most cities are swiftly changing due to the demographic and economic growth, and the increase of their standard of living. This urban development is led by private companies and by the National Agency for Housing Development, the TOKI. In this « housing race «, the regeneration operations of illegal districts (qualified as insanitary = gecekondu in Turkish) are quite often radical. The districts are being demolished and their population is being relocated in the suburbs in 5 to 15 storey projects.

The municipality of Diyarbakir, the main city in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, with a population of almost 1 million, has decided to reduce the gecekondu, with the support of the TOKI. While Diyarbakir’s mayor recognized the importance of this urban fabric and the fact that its adapted to the immigrant population’s way of life, the city has decided to lead an experimental project in Ben U Sen, which is one of the oldest and the main gecekondu in the city, with an estimated population of 20 000. The district is located at the foot of the walls surrounding the historical center, which look over the market gardening farms of the Tigris river valley, next to the the city’s urbanized area. This innovating operation’s goal is to maintain most of the current population in the area, and in a more global way, to experiment new intervention ways on the Turkish gecekundu.

This will is shared by the Mayor of Yenisehir (local administration, location of Ben U Sen), and supported by the Mayor of Rennes, whose city has been cooperating for almost 30 years, and also supported by the AFD (French Agency for Development). These partners have asked Les Ateliers to organize an international urban planning workshop with local and international professionnals in order to work on the evolution potentials of the Ben U Sen district, and to propose an intervention plan that will keep the population on site. The TOKI should be involved in the collaborative process in order to make a profitable contribution for the renewal of the national agency’s methods.


Marc Errera, Belgium, architect
Marie-Marie Penicaud, France, landscape architect
Zeynep Sıla Akıncı, Turkey, architect
Albin Lazare, France, political science
Nicolas Détrie, France, former director of Les Ateliers


- Contact