Photography: Pınar Gediközer & Emre Dörter

Zümrütevler Square

Designed by Superpool, Zümrütevler Square Interim Implementation is increasing pedestrian safety by shifting our angle to see the city from an elevation of a 3 year old.

Superpool realized the first interim implementation to improve Istanbul’s streets and intersections in terms of pedestrian safety, at Maltepe Zümrütevler Square, in collaboration with Maltepe Municipality and with consultancy from NACTO’s Global Designing Cities Initiative (NACTO GDCI).

The Bernard van Leer Foundation supported the interim implementation realized in October 2019 within the scope of their Urban95 program focused on the city and early childhood. With this program, the foundation poses, to city administrators, urban planners, architects, designers and entrepreneurs, the question “If you could see the city from an elevation of 95 centimetres – the average height of a healthy 3-year-old – what would you do differently?” So we, too, within the framework of this program, wanted to learn and implement together, as part of a broad network of partners, how streets could be improved in a manner that takes young children and their caregivers into consideration.

With a population of 71.500 people, Zümrütevler is one of the two most intensely-populated and disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Maltepe district. More than 30% of its population comprises children and young people in the 0-18 age group, while babies in the 0-4 age group make up 8%. There is a lack of open spaces and parks because of dense housing development. Therefore, the decision was taken to carry out the first interim pedestrian-priority street implementations planned for Maltepe in the Zümrütevler neighbourhood.

In the interim, aimed to increase pedestrian safety, roads were painted to encourage traffic calming; sitting areas and low-cost play elements were designed where children and their caregivers could spend their time comfortably.

Zümrütevler Square, whose permanent implementation was completed in August 2020, has become a public space where the neighbourhood can spend time and children can play.

At Zümrütevler Square, 1075 square meters of vehicle road was converted into pedestrian space, and a square of 550 square meters was formed.

We observed a 72% post-implementation increase in people spending time at the square. According to weekday afternoon observations, the number of babies and small children increased three-and-a-half fold, while the number of children in the 5-12 age group increased twofold. According to the same observations, 61% of children played with their friends, 21% played alone, and 18% played with their caregivers. The number of older adults spending time in the square increased ten-fold.

Data collection after the implementation revealed a 21% increase in pedestrians passing through the square, while sidewalk use increased 30%. The number of adults accompanying children increased by 16%, while the number of children walking alone in the streets increased by 43%; of the children walking alone, 89% walked in the marked secure area.

We wish that public officials and administrators, educational institutions, designers and the inhabitants of this beautiful city begin to work together and find excitement in producing more safe, pedestrian priority streets and lively public spaces!

Selva Gürdoğan, Gregers Tang Thomsen, Beyza Gürdoğan, Kaan Hiçyılmaz, Nicola Iavarone, Derya İyikul, Elif Ebrar Zelka

Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Engin Aksu, Ankita Chachra, Yüksel Çikdem, Gökhan Doğan, Ramazan Döker, Skye Duncan, Ekin Eryılmaz, Cansu Gösterişli, İlayda Güler, Hayrettin Günç, Aysel Gürkan, Metincan Güzel, Meral İlhan, Yağmur İnceleme, Nezir Kalaycı, Zafer Karakurt, Bahadır Keşan, Ali Kılıç, Elif Kılıç, Bülent Kırıcı, Cebrail Örü, Zeki Oylum, Şeyda Özcan, İsmail Özdeniz, Neslihan Öztürk, Abhimanyu Prakash, İpek Sepet, Ege Sevinçli, Fikret Toksöz, Erbil Uzunoğlu, Cengiz Yalın, Bahar Melisa Yıldıran

Type: Urban Design, Interim implementation & capital investment
Size: 2,000 m2
Client: Maltepe Municipality & Bernard van Leer Foundation
Collaborators: Global Designing Cities Initiative
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Status: Completed