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  • Photo: Can Akat

Interview Tradition as a making tool | Modular Mobile Parks

07 november 2019

How can we make the public space function better? Turkish designer Tuğçe Akbulut (CrossChange) and Dutch architect Jurgen ten Hoeve (Space Crafters) set to work on this issue. With the initiative 'Tradition as a Making Tool', the team shows alternatives for multifunctional and shared public spaces instead of building new buildings on the scarce open spaces in the city.

Through shared connections, Jurgen ten Hoeve was invited by Tuğçe Akbulut to participate in a series of workshops and so they came in contact with each other. Jurgen explains: 'The Consulate General in Istanbul, in collaboration with Tuğçe and others, organized a series of workshops as part of the research and knowledge-exchange programme 'Liveable Cities - Co-Designing our Public Space'. The aim of these workshops was to investigate a topical issue within the city in collaboration with Turkish and Dutch designers from different disciplines, and to try to provide an answer here by means of a design'.

Open Call Turkey, Russia, Egypt and Morocco
In September last year, the Fund published the Open Call Turkey, Russia, Egypt, Morocco #2. This year the proposal 'Tradition as a Making Tool' of Tuğçe and Jurgen was selected for the first and second phase. After preliminary research during the first phase, the second phase consisted of developing the 'Modular Mobile Parks'. This concept of designing public spaces in cities as a mobile vegetable garden can put themes around food production and sustainability on the agenda. Modular Mobile Parks thus serves an educational purpose that brings users, residents and municipality together. Joint dinners can be organized using the herbs from the vegetable garden, and the beginning and end of the harvest season is celebrated with a festival. Jurgen: 'We have actually developed a tool to promote dialogue on public spaces and to show that public spaces can also be used very nicely to pass on traditions. The design is mobile and multifunctional.'

  • Pupils visiting the Modular Mobile Parks. Photo: Can Akat

  • Jurgen continues: 'One of the things Tuğçe is doing with CrossChange is to initiate a Dutch-Turkish network of designers and creative entrepreneurs. Tuğçe had been following the Fund and its initiatives for some time. The open call was perfectly in line with what she is trying to achieve: collaboration between designers and the creative industry in the Netherlands and Turkey. Since we enjoyed a good partnership during the workshop and both of us have an affinity with the question raised in the open call, Tuğçe asked me to work together on this issue.'

    'We had a certain ideological image in mind to make the city greener and more inclusive. However, we could never have dreamt that the project would actually lead to the spin-off it has turned out to be. First of all, we are immensely proud that we have been selected for the second phase of the open call and that we can continue the project. The project has also opened several doors, either because of the partnerships that came into being during the design and realization of the project, or because of the interest from other parties. For example, we worked together with STIPO and through them Tuğçe was asked to participate in the European Placemaking Leaders Community. We have been invited to present our project at the Valencia Placemaking Summit. The presentations that Tuğçe gave at several meetings also gave rise to reactions from cities in different European countries that are interested in implementing the project in their own city.

  • The funding made it possible to implement the project and our ideas. This allowed us to carry out the research in both the Netherlands and Turkey and to come in contact with inspiring people who have taken our project to a higher level. Even more important is that the financial support paves the way for the development and testing of ideas without any financial pressure, relatively speaking. In our view, the support of the Fund and the freedom it gave us are indispensable in making these types of investigations possible.'