Istanbul Sidewalk considers the wide sidewalks of NYC to be untapped capital for the public, offering a surface for non-commercial social activities. While Central Park and Washington Square Park have become natural hubs for social gatherings, the streets can offer a more intimate and spontaneous experience for interaction between city dwellers.
It is common in historic cities like Istanbul for activities to overflow to the sidewalk due to lack of space, which is the main inspiration behind ‘Istanbul Sidewalk’. Thus the project aims to introduce such informal, unplanned and semi-private use of public space to the streets of New York City for the duration of the Ideas City Festival. Comparing the strictly designed public space of the first world countries to the contingency in Istanbul, Istanbul Sidewalk suggests that public space can be constructed by users, rituals, games and social media rather than the municipalities. Through this, it also presents a different perspective to the urban regeneration going on in Turkey.
Borrowed from the streets of Istanbul, the informal use of the sidewalks was experienced around backgammon tables accompanied by Turkish tea. This multi-cultured and open space of social interaction was broadcasted on the project’s website istanbulsidewalk.com and social media.