Alleys of Istanbul
After being in Berlin for almost half a year now, I had been missing alleys. Berlin’s massive blocks with deep interior plots and parcels do not seem to, along with the population density, warrant the use of lanes or alleys. Instead courtyards are more common called “Hofs” or “Hoefer” – stay tuned for some documentation of these.
Over the winter break, I traveled with two good friends (Hayrettin and Hamed) through Istanbul, a vast city of 14 million – meaning nearly ten times the population of Manhattan in one city. This city’s multiple developments spanning over seven large hills or mountains has a collection of fabrics at a scale and variety I have only experienced perhaps similarly in Tokyo. The crossing of the Bosphorus on a daily basis is a ritual for many of the city’s inhabitants moving from their neighborhood to their work on the other side as my friend does. This breath of fresh sea air accompanied with many birds and a hot tea provides a vantage point that so struck Le Corbusier on his trip here as a young man in his journey to the east of 1911.
The myriad neighborhoods and their individual topography produce many different kinds of small streets, alleys, and terraced alleys running down the steeper inclines. All forms of program can be found including markets, stores, galleries, craftsman shops, vendors, and restaurants. These can be found at street level and more commonly a level above and below. Interesting unique aspects include tiny sidewalks if at all and the combination of foot and vehicular traffic through these tight spaces and a number of intimate alleys overgrown with grape vines overhead. A nice detail is the multiplicity of stray dogs and cats roaming these small streets, but they are not mangy, they are more treated as communal pets and give a nice warm layer of life to the city.