Following the crisis of 2007-2008, the world witnessed civil protests against socioeconomic inequality in numerous cities, from Madrid to Tahrir and from New York to Istanbul. These contemporary social movements represented similarities regarding their demands, their claims to the right to the city, as well as the ways in which they occupied the representational spaces in these cities.
Among the cities which gave birth to various Occupy Movements, Istanbul is an important global hub suffering from massive neoliberal urban development projects threatening the natural resources as well as the public spaces of the city (Batuman, 2015). In relation to this context, May 2013 Occupy Gezi Movement was one of the major Occupy protests in the world, emerged as a reaction against the construction of a shopping mall over Gezi Park, one of the few public green spaces left in the heart of the city.
Reflecting structural and semantical development process of Gezi Park, as the main contribution of this paper, we situate Occupy Gezi Movement in the conceptual background of “heterotopia” discussing it from both Foucauldian (1967) and Lefebvrian (1970) perspectives and its relevance as a Heterotopic space for future urban practices about making collective space (Foucault, 1967; Lefebvre, 1970; de Solà-Morales, 1992; Avermaete, 2007: Scheerlinck, 2013).
Based on 1) interviews with spokespeople of the Taksim Solidarity Tayfun Kahraman (UCTEA Chamber of City Planners head of Istanbul Branch) and Derya Karadağ (UCTEA Chamber of Architects assistant secretary and board member of the Istanbul Branch), 2) geographic data, 3) mapping of the network of the structure of Taksim Solidarity’s constituents and 4) spatial configuration analyses of its multiple collective spaces, we reveal the spatial and semantical affordances of Gezi Park and Taksim Republican Square as a Heterotopic space.
From Foucauldian and Lefebvrian perspectives, we elaborate on the occupiers’ make-shift efforts and how they led to a collectively constructed and autonomous heterotopic space. Furthermore, we question the ways in which these spaces accommodated a unique form of political performance.
In the last part of our study, we discuss the relevance of our findings to the future of urban practices and in particular, their consequences for urban planning and urban design disciplines related to the making of collective spaces.