The Making of an Urban Designer in the ambiguous global context: an interdisciplinary graduate education at ITU


  • Nuran Zeren Gülersoy ISTANBUL TECHNICAL UNI.
  • Ahsen Ozsoy ITU
  • Ebru Erbas Gurler ITU



In the ambiguous period of globalisation, the city of Istanbul has been facing a series of complex and uncertain problems by the emergence of neo-liberal urban policies, the continuing issues of the residential neighbourhoods of former internal migrants, and finally new challenges by the arrival of a massive number of transnational migrants. In this context of emerging urban polarization, urban design needs to develop the ability to communicate with different disciplines interwoven into a whole. A new understanding of the built environment and the ways of modifying urban design is needed. The design studio is the most popular and widespread method for teaching and training students at every level to work together for the emerging complex urban issues, to accept a dialectic exchange with instructors and classmates, and to acculturate students to the “real-world” environment with all of the noises, intrusions and nuisances of the city of Istanbul. To what extent can a graduate programme, and design studio, in particular, give an understanding of complex urban issues, and develop an ability to develop resilient projects and policies for the emerging contemporary urban problems? What are the benefits of using exchanged or integrated methods of landscape architecture, architecture and urban planning regarding resiliency?

In the ambiguous globalising context, this paper aims at revealing the challenging milieu of an urban design studio at ITU Interdisciplinary Graduate Urban Design Programme. What makes the design studio extraordinary is not only the participation of three departments in conducting the studio, but also multi-departmental student profile to deal with and respond to complex contemporary urban issues. Consist of three designers (architects, planners and landscape architects); urban design studio aims at giving the students the ability to work in interdisciplinary groups with a high interaction and interdisciplinary dialogue. The studio works also provoke the students to interpret different views, combine and read undergraduate knowledge with new disciplines. In the paper, the methodology of the research is based on a literature review about “urban design education and studio culture.”
Following a brief description of the programme, the paper, first of all, focuses on the interdisciplinary design and teaching approach in the studio to respond complex urban issues – evaluating ambiguous events concerning to urban design theories, resilient practices, methods and the process. Focusing on the aim of the studio, it secondly gives a description of the context of the design process. Thirdly, it provides abilities gained during the graduate education as an urban designer. Finally, it reveals concluding remarks on the graduate education of an urban designer under the theme of resiliency.

This paper may provide a critical discussion for a broader understanding of the resiliency in the urban design education in Istanbul and Turkey. And it may relocate urban design training in the long journey of the planning history.


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How to Cite

Akpinar, I., Zeren Gülersoy, N., Koramaz, K., Ozsoy, A., & Erbas Gurler, E. (2016). The Making of an Urban Designer in the ambiguous global context: an interdisciplinary graduate education at ITU. International Planning History Society Proceedings, 17(7), 21–34.