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Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits
by Birgit Schrumpf

Director-writer Imre Azem presents an Istanbul from an angle never seen before. In vivid pictures, catching soundtrack, interviews with city officials, town planners and engineers he shows the unstoppable building boom of Turkey’s largest city. A group of evicted people tell about their continued struggle for affordable accommodation, adding a human touch to the noise of bulldozers and mind-boggling statistics. The influx of country people looking for work is also pushing at the city’s limits.

According to the Guardian Weekly of February 8, 2011, almost 15 million people (twice London’s population) live currently in Istanbul, occupying an area of 100 km from east to west, and it is predicted to double by 2030 as the government has great plans. Prime Minister Erdogan unveiled a canal project in April, and a third bridge over the Bosporus is planned. The present number of two million cars will soon reach six million. Town planners and environmentalists are up in arms. Oktay Ekinci, former head of Turkish Chamber of Architects, warns, “This disregards the urbanization balances in metropolitan plans, turning upside down the targets of city planning”.
Istanbul is in an earthquake danger area as the North Anatolian Fault runs less than 15 miles south of the city. The 1999 earthquake killed 17,000 people. According to scientists there will most probably be another major earthquake within the next 30 years. Now the city has one of the most earthquake-safe buildings in the world, the new international terminal at Sabiha Gökçen Airport.