Do-It-Yourself Urbanism within the Context of Right to the City and Participatory Urbanism: The Roma Garden

Ocal G., Erkut G.

PLANLAMA-PLANNING, vol.29, no.2, pp.115-128, 2019 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 29 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.14744/planlama.2019.29046
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.115-128
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The present study focuses on one of the last remaining urban gardens, the Roma Garden in Istanbul, Turkey, in the context of "DIY urbanism" Urban agriculture has a very long history in Istanbul where traditional urban market gardens called "bostans" provided the city with food for centuries. While the last remaining historical gardens are now under threat due to municipal policies favoring urban development, Istanbul has witnessed the formation of "DIY" urban gardens in 2013. These gardens, initiated on public land and maintained by a small group of gardeners, are open to the public without any legal relation to the local state. In contrast to the last remaining historical "bostans," these gardens, organized around the use value, are managed solely by gardeners, and the harvest is not meant to be nourishment, rather it has a symbolic value. The empirical research that the present study is based on shows that the destruction of urban public space in general and public green space in particular over the last decade in Istanbul paved the way to DIY public gardens as spaces of solidarity, collectivity, and shared knowledge, as well as spaces where ecological concerns can be raised and made visible. The present study also explores the ways in which these urban gardens contribute to envisage a new kind of urban opposition centered around the demand for public space against the neoliberal urban policies.