Transformation of a Mediterranean port city into a ‘city of clutter’: Dualities in the urban landscape – The case of Mersin
Since its foundation in the first half of the 19th century, Mersin has undergone transformation from a coastal village into a metropolitan area with a population of 850,000. This has been achieved through large-scale and incremental interventions into the built environment, including the construction of an international port; large-scale migration from rural areas and other cities; and urban sprawl, accompanied with the emergence of new housing forms. Conceiving Mediterranean port cities as a spatial expression of core-periphery relations and as gateways to the economic and social system of the industrial core, this study provides an account of urban change in Mersin over the last two centuries. This is accomplished through explorations into the urban development pattern at a citywide scale, and the corresponding changes to the public space system at a local scale resulting specifically from changes to Customs Square. The article illustrates that as a consequence of rapid development, especially after the mid-20th century, Mersin has transformed from a Mediterranean port city into a ‘city of clutter’, characterised by: dualities in the urban landscape, resulting from urban sprawl through campus-type housing environments and illegal developments; changes in the use and meaning of public spaces, such as Customs Square, a civic place of daily life, and Republican Square, for ceremonial use; and the co-existence of the urban complexity and diversity of an unplanned Mediterranean city alongside the homogeneity of a planned city. âº An inquiry into the characteristics of urban change in Mediterranean port cities. âº Well-organised public space system despite the lack of planning. âº Urban complexity and diversity were relinquished through urban planning. âº Lack of harmony during development turned the port city into a ‘city of clutter’. âº Redefinition of planning needs to include place-sensitive strategies and principles.