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NAR Innovation District, Future City
Location: Esenler, Istanbul

Arch. Imdat As
Year: 2020

The NAR Innovation District (212ha) is part of the Future City Project (845ha) in Esenler, Istanbul. The project is jointly supported by the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology, and the Ministry of Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change. The NAR Innovation District is a human-centric, walkable city project, where all parts of the area are within 5-min walking distance. Moreover, the main circulatory arteries are pedestrian only. The city of Esenler has 450,000 inhabitants, and with a density of 700 people/ha it is the densest part of Istanbul. Esenler is facing significant risks: It has a shaky building inventory that sits on a high-risk earthquake zone. Therefore, one of the primary goals of the city is to demolish high-risk building stock, and move their owners (about 150,000 people) to the new Future City site in the north. The NAR innovation district alone will house about 40,000 people. The density of the NAR area is about 172 person/ha, which is above the ideal average of 250 person/ha. In addition, the green area allocation per person increases from currently 1m2/person to 22m2/person in the NAR area.


The NAR innovation district is designed on a grid layout that covers 1,818,585m2 of city program, e.g., technology parks, commercial and residential units, as well as spaces for touristic, educational, health, sports and religious functions. The grid layout has been computationally adjusted to the context, e.g., according to the topography, city arteries, views, etc. The entire NAR area consists of 40 superblocks. A superblock is formed by eight blocks that are organized around a central open space that houses ~300 residential units with ~1,200 inhabitants. Superblocks facilitate self-sufficient, independent and decentralized neighborhoods, containing housing, commercial, social and religious functions for the dwellers.

The roads in the NAR area are separated into parallel pedestrian, bicycle and car lanes that are 50m apart from each other. The main arteries are pedestrian and penetrate through, and connect the superblocks. Vehicular traffic is pushed to the edges of the superblocks, and is open to electric vehicles only. The innovation district is sustainable, i.e., it runs on renewable energy, circular economy, and aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. We are implementing 106 of the ~1000 smart city applications laid out by the Ministry of Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change to transform cities across Turkey. The feasibility of each smart city application has been studied by TUBITAK TUSSIDE (Turkiye Sanayi Sevk ve Idare Enstitutusu). They are grouped under Smart Mobility, Smart Buildings, Smart Economy, Smart Environment, Smart Governance, Smart Energy, Smart Health, Smart Security, and Smart Emergency. To mention a few that have been implemented in the NAR Innovation District are as follows:

- Infrastructure for autonomous and electric vehicles

- Underground Waste Management and Utilities

- Underground and in Air Cargo Deliveries

- Renewable Energy Resources, e.g., Solar, Wind, Geo-thermal

- Decentralized Energy Clusters (Superblocks)

- Urban and Vertical Farming

- Crowdsourcing Governance

- Building Information Modeling and Digital Twins

- Flexible Buildings and New Typologies

- Certification of Buildings

Keywords: Future City, Smart City, City Applications, Superblocks, Grid Cities


Asude Kosebas, Doga Tuven, Elcin Sari, Hilal Yazar, Kaan Karabagli, Marko Jovanovic, Mehmet Onur Senem, Mert Cigizoglu, Ozge Borekci, Suheyla Turan, Yaroslav Mishenin


Esenler Teknopark TGB A.Ş.


Gelecegin Direncli Kenti: Esenler NAR Inovasyon Bolgesi,” (with Sari, E., Ozturk, S. P.) Çevre Şehir ve İklim Dergisi, Vol 1 Issue 2 (2022): 119-146.

Gamification in Urban Planning: Experiencing the Future City via VR,” (with Süedanur Özden, E. Arslantürk, M. O. Senem) Hybrid Space of the Metaverse: Architecture in the Age of the Metaverse, Opportunities and Potentials, 10th ASCAAD Conference, Debbieh, Lebanon, 12-13 Oct 2022.

Esenler Geleceğin Şehri: Nar İnovasyon Bölgesi Sıfır Atık Hedefi,” (with Mehmet O. Senem), Sıfır Atık ve Akıllı Şehir Uygulamaları, Editör: Kasım Yenigün, ÇŞB Yayınları, pp. 153-176


In the news:

Patrick Sisson, "What it looks like when AI Designs a City,", 16 Sep 2023

Recep T. Erdogan, 60 Bin Konutluk Büyük İstanbul, Tweet, 19 Aug 2022

Yıldız N. Gündoğmuş, Sinan Özmüş, Bakan Kurum: TOKİ konutlarımıza dair yeni bir indirim kampanyası daha düzenleyeceğiz, Anadolu Ajansı (AA), 5 Feb 2022

Murat Kurum, Yeşil Kalkınma Yolunda Türkiye, Tweet, 11 Feb 2022

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