Cumhuriyet Village Rural Design
Cumhuriyet village, in the Town of Beykoz, Istanbul, has a unique rural character with its plains covered with fertile alluvial soils and the village houses located on the slope rising from this plain. However, the area is under the pressure of urbanization due to its proximity to Istanbul and its accessibility through a highway from the city. Many farmers abandon their agricultural practices because of the anticipation of imminent urban development. Agricultural activity is labor-intensive but not equally profitable in their minds. Therefore, the farming landscape must be kept alive in the project area to promote rural development and tourism in tandem with preserving rural character and identity. This goal comes from more prominent discussions on adaptations to climate change, landscape performance, water safety, energy, and food safety. The project takes its theoretical foundations from the Biofilia hypothesis. Subsequently, while maintaining the sustainability of natural processes in the agricultural landscape of Cumhuriyet Village is at the core of the project, the project promotes an agro-tourism, which enables people to gain an interactive experience in an agricultural landscape, where farmers can be a part of this activity and generate tourism revenues.
The site becomes a dynamic landscape park of agro-tourism. This approach preserves the natural and cultural patterns and processes while at the same time, allow urbanites to enjoy this productive and beautiful setting. While developing a strategy for the transformation, the project, first, concentrates on the preserved landscape elements such as irrigation ditches, natural drainage systems, tree rows lining the fields, the water fluctuation pattern, and the river bank. Second, the Project introduces a multi-crop rotation scheme of legumes, brassicas, broad leaves, and grasses to the abandoned lots. Third, the project focuses on the most fundamental component- water on the site. In addition to all the preserved water patterns and sources, the design proposes new bio-swales, ditches, and water retention areas to catch the water, filter to improve its quality, and restore the water to use when needed. Besides, the design enhances the interaction of the terrain with the adjacent river corridor by providing sensitive contouring, stabilization of embankments with natural materials. It also gives opportunities to people’s interaction with the river and enables the transportation of people to the site by boat. And finally, the design focuses on the people’s movement and interaction with the productive landscape with a network of paths on the terrain and structures such as boardwalk and its attached pavilions above the terrain. These raised structures get their inspiration from the elevated structures of Black Sea rural landscapes. Overall, the project generates an environmental interpretation system.
The regenerative farming approach, which revitalizes degraded lands due to conventional agricultural techniques, can improve the organic matter, texture, fertility, water retention of the soil. Conventional methods rely on rotating two crops in a year and leaving the fallow the next year. However, with the regenerative farming practice, the rotation of up to 8-9 crops during the year is possible. This multi-crop rotation with the diverse cover of plants facilitates production diversity which in turn brings landscape diversity and activity variety.