Mankind has a long history of manufacturing, distributing, and trading goods. Roughly ten thousand years ago, people began establishing cities with perimeter walls, permanent structures, and fixed communities that worked to transform locally available materials into basic necessities: clothing, food, tools, shelter, and art. To ensure the necessities would be available all year long, surpluses were made and stored. These surpluses were also used to trade to other cities for materials that were not obtainable locally. Buildings designated for production and storage played key roles but were often segregated from homes and other buildings, mostly due to the unpleasant sights, sounds, or smells that typically accompanied the activities within. Since those early times, mankind and cities have spread across the globe and have seen great advances in construction, manufacturing, and commercial technologies. Even with our growth and modern conveniences, the need remains for structures and complexes of structures dedicated to production, storage, and distribution. But the world’s mass and resources are precious and limited, so the challenge is to create industrial complexes that are more ecologically sensitive, responsible, and sustainable. One solution, as demonstrated in Media City, is to incorporate industrial buildings into an urban setting that has also adds to the human experience by providing artistic and cultural value and promotes a conscientious and forward approach to infrastructure and the built environment.
The core program of Media City is a multimedia based industrial complex that would service Istanbul’s third airport, which upon completion is projected to be the world’s largest. To achieve this, Media City combines all the elements of the multimedia industry, not just those related to production or mass distribution. In Media City one would find management offices, shops for direct end user purchases, stages, and halls hosting live performances, interactive museums and libraries archiving and making historical and lesser known artists and contributors more accessible, schools and workshops for education, and residential amenities for those who will work and play there, in addition to the warehouses, factories, and printers. By being a vibrant and engaging habitat where people can witness the design, production, and application of virtual reality and multimedia products, Media City creates a dynamic and intriguing cultural attraction as well as serves as an example for sustainable city frameworks to the rest of the world.
Though Media City began as a site-specific project, the design process also resulted in a new planning method, a manner of creating self-sufficient smart cities, that could very well be used for urban designs in a variety of environments throughout the globe. This method may share techniques or processes with other, more traditional ways of urban planning but assembles, unifies, and systemizes them in a unique and creative fashion. The method has six phases: the Discovery Phase; the Acquisition Phase; the Employment Phase; the Sculpting Phase; the Treatment Phase; and the Emergence Phase. Following the phases results in plans that provide a level of organization that is sensible and familiar on many scales—pedestrian, vehicular, and urban. And it is precisely the combination of familiarity or comfort, and sensibility, or practical flexibility, that is the goal. Rather than creating a plan that constricts or limits activity and growth (of both the inhabitants and environment), the method produces living, breathing cities.
The first phase, Discovery, is very typical and applies to basic problem solving for all kinds of situations. Discovery, which may also be thought of as “consciousness”, is the deliberate and careful identification of the program needs and site conditions. These establish the boundaries and contents of the project. The spark that forms the essence of the project is born out of the creative exchange of information and ideas between the designer, the client, and the site.
The second phase, Acquisition, requires the use of unique design tools that were developed specifically for Media City. As a reference for Media City, many large historical cities with industrial roots—Istanbul, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, New York—were researched and investigated for their massing properties. During this process, some parallels with QR codes were found. In sections of these cities as well as in QR code, one could find small shapes in a tight, frantically compressed center with a few massive forms isolated along the perimeter. This inspired the creation of modules, themselves bearing a physical resemblance to QR codes, that would represent typologies for Media City’s buildings, parks, streets, etc. and could be repeated, manipulated, adjusted, and organized along grids in a manner resembling the patterns of QR codes to create urban masterplans. Once the perimeter boundaries are defined and the program established, the design can collect or assemble the appropriate typology modules.
Once the designer has the modules necessary to realize the program, they are roughly placed or Employed, in a basic arrangement within the site boundaries. The modules are installed according to their typology and their role in fulfilling the program. The module corresponding to the city center would naturally be placed at the center, and additional modules would be arranged similarly with respect to their shape and use.
The fourth stage, Sculpting, has a series of steps or actions that are applied to dissolve the modules into smaller elements that are further reshaped and redistributed into forms that are more suitable. The four steps are: Finding the Center; Assigning Function; Building Blocks; and Grid Figures. After the modules are roughly Employed, the first step is to cut the major central axis or datum, thus Finding the Center. This starts the process of transforming the pattern construct of the modules into a multitude of smaller masses that will be continuously kneaded into forms that will eventually evolve into a city. Next, the resulting masses are proportioned, worked, and massaged into course, uneven entities based on the role in the program, thus Assigning Function. Now the new masses are subdivided into more recognizable elements found in cities, the Building Blocks, such as neighborhoods and well-defined avenues. In the last step of Sculpting, the Building Blocks are processed and fitted into Grid Figures, one of various smaller, more human scale grid units that will define buildings, plazas, parks, side streets, and paths. Now that the city has a defined layout, the final two stages, Treatment, and Emergence, will give the city breath and complexity.
In Treatment, the designer allocates greenery, infrastructure, water, smart strategies, etc. to transform the pattern of volumes and voids into the plan for a self-sufficient city. Certain modules were designed and selected with the intent of including green corridors. Water, in the form of streams, ponds, and fountains, offer physical and psychological comfort, mediating humidity and calming the spirit. The conservation of natural vegetation will be a high priority. Green roofs and facades will also be standard design elements of the buildings. Smart Energy-Water-Waste Management, Smart Transportation, and Sustainable Green Integration are keys to a responsible and eco-sensitive urban site. Media City will implement these in its own design and will also encourage residents and users to develop behaviors that are more conscientious and forward looking.
Smart Energy-Water-Waste Management is based on intelligent source production and use/reuse practices. Media City utilizes clean energy producing technologies and fosters an energy-saving lifestyle. Solar panels and wind turbines will be major contributors for clean energy, and the site will contain high-efficiency, low consumption lighting, and appliances throughout. Water management will be guided by preservation strategies. Rainwater will be collected and treated for various uses. Waste collection and diversification will also be progressive and beneficial to the environment; the collection of the waste will be done by electric waste vehicles, reducing the carbon footprint. And not only will the footprint be reduced through the waste collectıon, as part of the Smart Transportation strategies, self-driven, completely electric or hydroelectric automobiles, buses, and commuter rails are envisioned as the standard for Media City. Though there will be low-emission public transportation, the layout will encourage walking and bicycle use.
In the final stage, Emergence, the city ascends above and beyond the page as the objects from the Grid Figures take three-dimensional form and the individual building designs begin. Like with the Acquisition phase, modules have been created to serve as the fundamental element for buildings within Media City. These cube modules are perfectly suited to be repeated, stacked, rotated, flipped, turned, stretched, and even hollowed out in an infinite number of variations. Structures as large and complex as theaters or as simple as a single firm office can come together in quick and innovative ways by manipulating the modules.
Over the last few centuries, thanks to countless advancements in technology and media, there have been tremendous and dramatic changes to how people interact and behave, but why we do has remained fairly unaffected and will likely continue to be the same for many centuries to come. So cities and planning of the future should embrace and incorporate technology into the design in a responsible and intelligent fashion. Media City, and the method used to design it strive to be examples of how to be creative, green, global, and innovative for not only today’s climate but tomorrows as well.