The EURA Conference, Reconciling past and future urban and regional strengths, Tilburg, Netherlands, 20 - 23 June 2018
Beşiktaş, one of the historical coastal district of Istanbul, is on the very edge of a radical transformation because of an approaching “Beşiktaş Public Square Project”. Due to its location, presence on the coast, population, density, and distance to the other centers of Istanbul, the forthcoming decisions are critical to the region and also for the whole city. As the new project aims to pedestrianize the area by placing the vehicular traffic under the ground, public transportation system will be redesigned. Around the square new buildings will rise, while the existing buildings will be demolished. At this juncture, Beşiktaş and its square are about to change from top to bottom, but more importantly, Istanbulites have no participatory role in the decision making. This study foresees that through the determination of the perception of the existing conditions of Beşiktaş by local users, different and better projects and decisions can be suggested for the future of the region. The motivation of this paper is the lack of determination and clarity on the cognition of the Square, and it aims to discuss and review Beşiktaş Public Square from perspective, mind, and behavior of the users. In the framework of the study, firstly a brief literature review on the determination, concept, scope and evaluation criteria of a public square is conducted. Secondly, Beşiktaş square is described through the history of the region, existing situation and expected scenarios in the near future. In the analysis part, with cognitive mapping methodology, characteristics of the Square are discussed from the point of users. Cognitive map study with thirty (35) subjects is initially evaluated and categorized upon the five elements that Kevin Lynch defined as the images of the city. Moreover, findings are discussed with the four main criteria on public space that determined by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) group. The obtained results are digitized and represented with tables and graphs. In conclusion, findings of the research indicate the crucial issues from the perspective of the users on the approaching change in Beşiktaş. Thus, this study may help to develop comprehensive ideas and new suggestions on the Square by the involvement of public opinions.