Squatter Settlements

The majority of urban areas of the large cities in Turkey consist of squatter settlements (gecekondu). These settlements reflect a transitional society experiencing simultaneously the dissolution of the traditional modes of production and the problems of industrialization. The process of evolution of such settlements is common in developing countries. Gecekondu, by definition, is a process whereby the lower income groups, mainly people from the countryside, incapable of finding a solution to their housing needs within the rules and standards set by society, proceed to solve it illegitimately through their own resources and efforts. The term gecekondu means 'to land by night' and thereby appropriately depicts the speed and stealth of the construction process
Variant Names Gecekondu
Location Istanbul, Turkey
Date ongoing
Century 20th
Building Types residential, urban design and development
Building Usage private residence, informal settlement

The gecekondu is a spontaneous indigenous development, dependent upon the resources of the user. The individual houses stand on small irrecular plots. No apprarent order governs the pattern of settlement, and the irregular streets are mere paths for pedestrians since car ownership is almost non-existent. In such an absence of formal laws and regulations, one can feel the indigenous application of an unwritten law -a concern with the community, and strive not to block somebody else's view or not to build over his small crop garden.

The gecekondu is the outcome of a low technology using local and salvage materials, self-help and local labour, traditional building knowledge, and simple tools. With the exception of some differences in materials, the gecekondu is a repetition of the rural dwelling familiar to the resident/builder. The houses are usually very small. They are single-storey rectangular units, very simple in plan. There is usually a central hall or a living room (where the stove is located for heating) off which are the other rooms. The bathroom and kitchen coincide in most cases, in the only space which is available through a pipe connected to the main line. The toilet is almost always totally detached from the house. The house extends out to an outdoor living space (verandah) and then onto a small garden plot for growing vegetables, crops or keeping chickens. This is a part of the household economy, sometimes even yielding surplus that can be sold. Building materials are purchased from local dealers and are usually the leftovers of demolished buildings.

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