Hamamonu, a district of Ankara containing a wealth of old Ankara houses, was the subject of a street rehabilitation programme in 2007 that saw the renovation of houses and the pedestrianisation of a number of streets.
Background & Objectives
The Hamamonu district of Ankara, known for its old traditional Ankara houses, was the focus of a “Street Rehabilitation” project launched in 2007 by the Ankara Altındağ Municipality. The district offers many examples of the traditional Anatolian and, in particular, Ankara housing styles, which have undergone renovations and façade renewals in the project. In addition, a number of narrow streets that had previously been open to vehicular traffic have been pedestrianised.
The rehabilitated area forms part of Ankara’s historical quarter, which has been earmarked for regeneration in the city’s conservation plan. While the building restoration programme has raised criticisms following reports that some buildings were completely demolished and rebuilt rather than being renovated, it is the pedestrianisation area that deserves attention in the context of Ankara’s extremely automobile-oriented urban and transport policies.Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has very few pedestrian-only areas, and those that do exist were created pre-1990. As such, in almost two decades no new pedestrian areas have been created, despite the proposal to extend the existing pedestrian zones in the city’s Transport Master Plans.>The majority of transport investments in Ankara since the mid-1990s have sought to improve vehicular flow in the city centre, but have resulted in pedestrian circulation and mobility being severely compromised.In front of this car-oriented city backdrop the Hamamonu project is rather significant, being the first time for almost 20 years that a new pedestrian zone has been bestowed upon the city. The subsequent growth in the number of cafes and restaurants opening in the area, and the marked increase in the number of visitors are putting this historical part of the city back on the map as a car-free and safe environment to visit. The area has begun to be known as a place were people can stroll in a pleasant environment, and where children can play and ride their bicycles.
The way the pedestrian streets of Hamamonu are being enjoyed by visitors, and particularly by cycling children, is a clear indicator of the need for more pedestrian areas in the city. The project has helped to show that such car-free areas are valued by the general public, and can become important areas for social interaction and safe playgrounds for children.