TOP-DOWN VS. BOTTOM-UP /ALL OR NON

The city is a living organism that has different decision-makers and stakeholders. Therefore, it creates many conflicts between decision-makers and society. A city where only the administration or the society are the decision-makers in city administration and planning cannot be considered. This essay will argue the set-up of being with each other by combining the top-down and bottom-up approaches.



According to the top-down approach “The starting point is the authoritative decision; centrally positioned actors such as architects, politics, urban planners, economy are seen as most important to the desired result, as the name implies.” (Lynch, 2014) Before taking a decision, politicians get feedback from their subordinates, architects, or city planners. The dangerous thing is to always make decisions based on the same perspective of vision which means not seeing some of the society. It may cause conflict between society and politicians. For instance, with his appointment as governor of Haussmann, who took part in the renovation process of Paris in the 19th century, he saw himself as a pioneer and revealed the problems in the city. He has solved the water problem in the city and the socialization problem created by the narrow streets with holistic urban planning (Jordan, 2015). However, He placed the low-in come class by ignoring them to out side the city. Apart from that, even though there are unplanned houses in Fikirtepe, it contains concepts of interactions and relations among people which is conceptually unique. The Fikirtepe phenomenon has been destroyed for political and economic interests. Later then, an environment where people cannot live due to their economic conditions has been created. (Özkul, 2019) These two examples have common points. Therefore, one of the disadvantages of the top-down approach is social discrimination.

According to the bottom-up approach, it also has thinking tools of operating systems which is different than top-down approach because the thought leads to complications, much more spontaneous actions. As an example, the Paris Commune, which emerged during the French Prussian war, was founded when all revolutionary tendencies in Paris started a civil uprising. The idea was that it should be self-governing with the Commune of its choice has been welcomed by many French towns but, this request of the people was denied by the government. But then, they took over the administration with riots. (Paris Commune, 2012) This was a cause that affected the war in a positive way. It is still possible to see the democratic quest of the people in the past in France today because we still see the people in France protesting to express their reactions. This represents the desire for a democracy. To clarify, after the yellow vest incidents in the recent past, the government had to take a step back from some decisions taken. Therefore, we can interpret the public's ability to take to the streets and protest as a return of history. Additionally, the physical purpose of books is to convey knowledge. But since knowledge is not a physical thing, what is conveyed in books is a representational symbol. Temporary libraries established in public spaces such as parks and squares can represent equal access to information and can represent information everywhere. (Kayadevir, 2014) The Taksim Gezi events examples, where they built the temporary library to symbolize the knowledge and resistance to the government. Apart from that, the occupation of the Atatürk Cultural Center by the protesters and the destruction of the cultural center by the local government can symbolically extend the gap between the society and the administrator. It was a unity movement against the government's decisions that emerged from a small incident and then grew together with unity. Each imagery represented in these events is a sign against the decision-maker being the people. These two countries' examples can show that the people in democratic and liberal countries have a direct or indirect effect on the administration.



Nowadays, I see the result of these kind of riots create a new kind of urbanism approaches such as, DIY, tactical, pop-up, or guerilla urbanisms in capitalist democratic countries because they all have the sovereignty and decision-making of the people. (Talen, 2014) These small size riot indicators were initially independent. But with the government listening to the public, they were included in public spaces and contributed to the broader urban vision. On the other hand, Barcelona super blocks example is a relevant example to see both top-down and bottom-up approaches together. As cities grow and crowd, it threatens the health and happiness of the people. Congestion, pollution, and lack of public space greatly affect people's aspirations and urban life experiences. Therefore, the aim of Barcelona superblocks is to offer a more participatory and healthy urban life. Barcelona super blocks example has a designer who designs urban furniture and parks for urban squares and houses courtyards. The designer work as a bridge between the municipality and the public by creating meeting areas in the neighborhoods, the thoughts of the people are taken for the designs to be made and the decisions are conveyed to the municipality. Finally, although the decision is made by the manager and the designer, the wishes of people with different views are considered. Similarly, we can observe that after the change of the Istanbul administration, the urban planning vision has also changed. Nowadays, we see city squares being redesigned with competitions. The municipality is the pioneer of the competition, the designer is responsible for making a participatory design, and the public chooses the design they want by voting. The projects are selected by the jury before they are presented to the public because when viewed with a broad vision, the public is given a small orientation to make a rational choice. According to the research, we can see the importance of the park and square design in the city and how being together with the nature that comes from human nature creates positive effects on social relationships. We can expand the examples further, but in both examples, we can see that returning to the street is a longing, and we can observe the positive effects of making these places a human priority.


As a result, the Top-down approach needs a bottom-up approach. If the top-down approach neglects the bottom-up approach, there will be an inevitable conflict between them. In a broader view, the top-down and bottom-up approach's decision-makers' can vary according to the culture, morphology, politicians, and ethnicities of the countries. But, if we adopt the ecosystem and institutional levels to urban scale in a common table, the planning of the urban areas can optimize with the socio-ecological system.




The Bibliography


Lynch, K., 2014. Top Down Vs Bottom Up Memorial Lecture. [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2vCv_JYWw>.


Jordan, D., 2015. Paris: Haussmann And After. [online] SAGE Journals. Available at: <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0096144215571567?casa_token=lvrGquwzAicAAAAA:woFp8sXuLuoTeGaZ9SlUHlqrM75TBkku_b5BCxhBy4_0qYg5Iyz0CGhi_nf_uSHHwOZx72GnEqK>.


ÖZKUL, D., 2019. Between The City And The Neighborhood Culture Fikirtepe. [online] Dergipark.org.tr. Available at: <https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/download/article-file/671738>.


Kayadevir, A., 2014. Ufkun Ötesi: Gezi Parkı Açık Hava Kütüphanesi. [online] Dergipark.org.tr. Available at: <https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/download/article-file/808012>.


Talen, E., 2014. Do-It-Yourself Urbanism: A History. [online] SAGE Journals. Available at: <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1538513214549325?casa_token=vn8DRi_PsZwAAAAA%3AsdOqZj05CSH33a5CicwArmPvBp5959rjzBtMyZ2q5ETCf0duVOy49mq4TinAhtYo1WvTcSAVoAkFbA>.


KOZAMAN, S., 2013. The Relationship Between Environmental Change And Socio-Economic Structures In The Context Of The Socio-Ecological System Approach In Turkey. [online] Jag.journalagent.com. Available at: <https://jag.journalagent.com/megaron/pdfs/MEGARON-29484-ARTICLE_(THESIS)-KOZAMAN.pdf>.


Bakunin, M., 2009. The Paris Commune And The Idea Of The State. [online] The Anarchist Library. Available at: <http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/michail-bakunin-the-paris-commune-and-the-idea-of-the-state>.

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