New York-based Turkish architect Selim Vural, founder of architecture and interior design firm Studio Vural, has shared with us his design for a Gezi Park Monument. The memorial commemorates the recent protests on Istanbul's Taksim Square against the planned construction of a shopping mall in place of the historic Gezi Park — which sparked the nationwide 2013 protests in Turkey.
Project Description from Selim Vural:
Beyond commemorating important events, monuments come to being through significant ideas. Their bodies are usually aesthetic, dynamic, communicative and distinctive yet beyond all, they are clear embodiments of their generative ideas.
It is also significant that all monuments of liberty in history are made of or derived from female figures. There is a soft power, an illuminated fearlessness in their stance, which is not evident in the singularly powerful male figures. On the one hand they are complex, conflicting, and plural and on the other they are “blazingly clear” in Le Corbusier’s favorite words, with a harmonizing cognition.
Such is the spirit of millions of Turkish people standing for freedom in Taksim Square in Istanbul, who took it to the streets after peaceful protesters trying to protect Gezi Park against an "illegal government project (!)" were pepper gassed and beaten brutally.
From a western perspective, a revolutionary syringe of Woodstock 69 & Occupy Wall Street cocktail has been injected into Turkish cultural veins, creating an unprecedented moment of social blending and unity. Environmentalists, transvestites, traditionalists, gays and lesbians, farmers, intellectuals, factory workers, university students, veterans among many other have come together in Gezi Park and fought shoulder to shoulder. Transvestites have guarded the square holding hand in hand, so religious protesters could face to Mecca and pray; this is surely a first for Turkey! Gezi Park events were and are (people are on the streets as this text is being written) so fiercely post-modern and complex that it has appalled and dysfunctionalized many government faculties. The traditionalist/oriental government priding itself with economic growth has, unsurprisingly, retreated into a protective shell of denial.
Gezi Park Monument has been conceptualized under the light of such complex forces. It is derived from an abstracted photograph of a female protester and strives to represent all above mentioned layers of society, harmonizing yet not sterilizing their individual identities. The project site is the platform where Gezi Park and Taksim Square meet. Horizontal sustainable concrete platforms merge with the vertical female figure, erecting themselves up towards the boundary line between the park and the square. Below the shell of the monument above, the 12 feet level difference between the park and the square has been utilized to accommodate a museum and a library. A promenade runs through the project and connects the square below, the underground functions and the park above. The concrete platforms function both as a roof scape for the museum and landscaping elements for the park, nurturing a variety of local plants including Turkish hot peppers, under the condition of peaceful consumption.
Gezi Park Monument is the architectural form of a nation's SCREAM, it is loud yet peaceful, plural yet harmonic; it is a woman yet a nation.