DISOBEDIENT BY NATURE
Design Academy Eindhoven, 2018
Mapping ‘green otherness’ in Istanbul, the unofficial and under-appreciated forms of urban plant life.
In collaboration with Eva Jack.
MAPPING URBAN PLANT LIFE
The urban environment can be seen as a collection of man-made materials, structures and control systems. However, the city is not just man-made but also has elements of the natural, the two are intrinsically linked and constantly interacting. Weeds are incredibly resilient, this means that they can not only withstand but also conquer their surroundings.
The mapping of the Beşiktaş neighbourhood between Abbasağa Park and Şenlikdede Park shows the ways in which nature rebels and adapts. From drains to cracks, rooftops and stairs - plants can be spotted in a multitude of obscure locations.
The Beşiktaş neighbourhood is characteristically concrete. However, wandering its streets evidences that the residents have an interest and involvement in plant life. While there is almost no soil in the area, those living there overcome this problem in their own ways.
One recurring example of this is makeshift plant pots made from used food containers. Not only do they make space for plants, but maintain and nurture them too. Plants protected from the frost with bubble wrap and others propped up with wooden planks can be seen outside homes and businesses.
It is these small but effective everyday human interventions which contribute to making the streets greener.
PLANT TOUR GUIDE
Once established in an area to which it is suited, a plant begins to spread. Seeds are able to migrate from one place to another with the help of wind and rain as well as animals and humans (on clothing and soles of the shoes).
By following a chosen species, Parietaria Judaica*, and mapping its presence a route through the city is formed. In doing so the plant carved out a path within the Yeldeğirmeni neighbourhood. A colorful, urban, and emerging residential area for young creatives and activists. The key transport links at the edge of the Bosphorous.
Also known as Pellitory of the Wall.
1. Medicinal - Parietaria Judaica has been valued for over 2,000 years for its diuretic action, as a soother of chronic coughs and as a balm for wounds and burns.
2.Edible - The soft stems and leaves can be consumed either raw in salads or cooked. A drink can also be made by boiling in water.
3.Other - The alkaline properties of the plant can also be used for cleaning, this was particularly popular in the Middle Ages for copper and glass.