Turkey: collective discussions and action for better urban living (22 July 2015)


The Institut français in Turkey is continuing its discussions and activities on the issue of better urban living.

Since 2012, the actions undertaken encourage discussions between academics, researchers, institutions, community activists, the local population and artists. French and Turkish project leaders in the fields of urban planning, sociology, ethnology, botany, ecology and architecture are also involved.

Many themes have been addressed: urban transformation, defining and safeguarding architectural and archaeological heritage, food heritage, plant heritage, as well as expertise, craft industries and traditional trades.


  • Promote French expertise in the area of urban development;
  • Launch or consolidate partnerships between scientific and institutional actors and French and Turkish urban development associations;
  • Alert the public to urban development issues;
  • Encourage civil society involvement in environmental and urban planning policies by presenting consultation methods;
  • Encourage and support the implementation of an integrated policy for urban development;
  • Develop the image of an Institut français which is active in daily life and able to support dialogue between France and local actors.

Spotlight on the "Cultural Bridges" programme Turkey 2015: sharing and maintaining expertise in the area of wood

Wood construction on the Mediterranean rim is an age-old tradition displaying highly-skilled workmanship. The "konak" two-storey construction techniques with covered "cumba"-type balconies still exist in Turkey, and must be given special attention if we are to ensure that expertise is not lost, but passed on, and prevent the decline of a major built heritage, both urban and rural.

The project is based around three themes:

The creation of an on-site restoration training workshop in Izmir by a team made up of Turkish professionals and 40 volunteers from Charpentiers sans frontières (Carpenters Without Borders). The principle of the Charpentiers sans frontières workshops is based on training workshops which combine theory and practical skills. Thanks to direct involvement from teams of carpenters supervised by heritage conservationists and architects, work can be completed on a heritage building within 1-2 weeks. The principle of this involvement gives priority to traditional pre-industrial processes.

The creation of an urban work of art made of wood by Turkish artist Varol Topaç and two French students.

A series of conferences on the wood industry, maintaining expertise and training.

In 2014, François Calame, who is Head of the Normandy Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate (DRAC) and in charge of Charpentiers sans frontières, held an initial conference and met a number of partners in Izmir. The Institut français in Turkey then identified a choice of possible workshops, proposed to the Konak town council and the action group. The project was explained to the Mayor of Konak and his team in September 2014, after the change of personnel following the elections.

In January 2015, a preparatory mission was set up to run the workshop with Denis Chevallier (C2MP) and François Calame. The Institut français in Izmir is helping the mission to check various locations and communicate with local partners. The team visits the worksites, checks the locations and contacts the city technical services with a view to effectively organizing preparations for the work.

Partnerships forged around this programme

The project is run by the Izmir branch of the Institut français in Turkey

French partners:

  • The Charpentiers sans frontières action group
  • The Normandy Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate (DRAC)
  • The Yunus Emre Turkish cultural institute in Paris
  • The town of Évreux (Augustin Hébert vocational school)Turkish partners:
  • The municipality of Konak in Izmir
  • The municipality of the city of Izmir
  • The Izmir Chamber of Architects
  • The TARKEM association (for the restoration of the historic centre, Kemeralti neighbourhood)
  • "Akdeniz Akademisi" the Izmir Mediterranean Academy (organization responsible for implementing cultural policy in the city of Izmir)
  • Dokuz Eylül University

Latest news

A Charpentiers sans frontières mission took place on 23-27 June. A vocational school as well as two workshops were identified to be included in the worksite and to build links between the Bagnolet vocational school of woodworking (lycée professionnel du bois) and that of Izmir. A study of the building and a proposal for restoration (designs, maps, etc.) were submitted to the Konak-Izmir city council for approval and inclusion in the full project file (link-up with Turkish architects) presented to the Ministry of Culture. A schedule of meetings and initiatives has been set for 2016.

For further information on Charpentiers sans frontières (in French)

On the artist Varol Topaç

Useful websites:

Next week, ’Our innovative network’ will discuss research in the United States