Urban Visions

Growing Apart


Project Team // Angelika Weissheim / Ceyhun Ruhisu Altiok / Pablo Fernández Vallejo




February 2017

The project focuses on growth in the context of the city, more specifically on the conflict that might arise from the phenomena of growth. In this sense the situation of growing apart is defined as a process of growth with decreasing levels of interaction among different parts of the city. In the last decades, growth in metropolitan areas as demographic and physical has been exponential, which also implies structural changes. When the urban system is failing to adjust to the changed structures, we can identify the phenomena of growing apart.


From here, insights were drawn from other bodies of knowledge. Specially appropriate for our research was the concept of meaningful interaction which can be defined as a continuous encounter among various elements in the context of the city that would increase the level of awareness of each other and reduce the chances of conflict.

With this in mind, the problem was approached by examining the cases of three cities of Buenos Aires, Istanbul and Berlin. In each city the procedure was implied by analysing [Stage I] the process of growing apart, then identifying [Stage II] spaces of opportunity for intervention and going one step further, reflections [Stage III] were generated that are envisioning the process of growing apart through the use of alternative scenarios.


The following scenarios are experimental thought processes and induce a critical vision of growing apart in the urban context.

Stage I

The first step of analysis we created a set of maps, that shed light on different levels, thus we could locate growing apart in each city. We identified different dimensions of growth which are social, geographic and historical.


In the case of Buenos Aires we examined the integration problem of informal settlements into the already existing structure of the city. The immediate contrast between these elements creates a persistent tension within the city of Buenos Aires.

For Istanbul we analysed the historic pattern of growth, which steers towards inland, thus away from the Bosphorus. which is simultaneously dividing and connecting the multi-centred city.

In Berlin we identified two concurrent processes of growing apart. One is the ongoing reunification of the formerly divided parts of the city, and the other is the tensions associated with uneven levels of integration within the phenomena of globalization.



Stage II

As a second step we identified potentials that we consider as spaces of opportunity for each distinct city, with respect to our first step of analysis that of determining allocations which are objected to growing apart. These potentials are expressed in volumetric diagrams representing particular aspects of respective cities.


In Buenos Aires, the immediate contrast between the informal settlements and the formal urban establishment is expressed. This model represents the lack of connection between these two elements.

For Istanbul we examined the role of the Bosphorus with respect to its connectivity through the ferry lines as the main agents weaving different centres of the city. In here we represented the passenger volumes of those ports.

In the case of Berlin we focused on its unique urban pattern shaped by courtyards, as a boundary between the public and the private, holding high potential for intervention. The negative space of courtyards is represented in the model.



Stage III

In consideration of our first two stages of analysis and identification, we developed an alternative scenario for each city where we reflect on these different aspects of growing apart as our final intervention. These scenarios, far from being realistic, are representing an understanding of complex, entangled, thus unsolvable situations of practiced cities, unless drastic changes in many levels and scales of the city happen.


In the case of Buenos Aires we focus on the questions of visibility between the official city and informal settlements. The proposed artefact is a giant mirror spanning the border created by the contrast within these two settlements. It queries the increasing social tension without the intention of confrontation in either direction. It invites the observer to experience two different perspectives on the scene.

Considering the vast growth of Istanbul, we imagined the Bosphorus as the reacting element to inland growth to keep its priority as the main connecting medium of the city. The Bosphorus here would somehow bend the land and tense the connections for the purpose of bringing the expanding parts of the city closer towards itself, so that it can contemplate its role to keep the city altogether.

For Berlin we present a video installation of an endless-looping journey of the alternative layer of the city generated by the courtyards. These transitional spaces in the boundary between the public and the private are pointing out the huge potential of a meaningful encounter. During the video, the semi public & semi private area is exaggerated and extended to infinity, while no interaction is actually happening. Thus it puts the observer in the position of isolation in such spaces, which is actually contradicting with the essence of transition spaces.

As a final conclusion of the process all these levels [mapping, analysis and interventions], the extended boundaries were understood as connecting agents that are crucial to prevent growing apart within the context of the contemporary city. The transitions that are naturally arising from such articulations play an important role in keeping meaningful interactions, thus reducing the risks of higher conflicts while the city is changing its dynamics and structures. From this perspective, the contemporary city can adapt itself easily to further developments once these boundaries can be mapped, extended, and introduced for further interaction, or the developments are controlled with respect to the limits of such boundaries.