Ezgi Ece Yavuz, Eray Şahin, Resul Sağlam, Feyzullah Topçu, Tuğçe Akgün (SCPAT)
Our cultural assets and their surroundings with wide social opportunities are places visited by people for aesthetic pleasure and satisfaction and reflect the country's culture and history. Therefore, in all countries, all segments of society should be able to visit cultural assets. However, it may not be possible for each individual to have access to these areas. The negative situation in these areas where access opportunities should be most favourable cannot meet many universal design principles, especially equitable use. So, we started our research process in order to bring a solution to this problem. During the interviews with our NGO design partner whom we work within this process, we learnt that transportation and visiting are almost impossibly limited on routes used to access these areas. The Galata Tower and its surroundings, which is one of the important cultural assets, was decided as the project site to turn this area accessible for the visit of all individuals and offer the required aesthetic pleasure.
SELECTION OF THE PROJECT SITE:
Routes and streets used for access to Galata Tower and its surroundings were studied. The irregular planning that we had observed in most of the routes and streets used for accessing this area, the narrow sidewalks and the vehicle and people density in these areas had made determining project site difficult. At the end of that process, Galip Dede Street was decided to be the most suitable site for us. Galip Dede Street starts from a wide area, which has fewer people and vehicle density, at the cross-section of the Karaköy-Taksim Tunnel and Şişhane Subway Station exit. Besides, the fact that this street is directly connected to Galata Tower was also a factor for selecting this street as the project site.
It was decided that the designed solution should have integrity as part of the urban texture, should have its own area, as well as, make the site unique even if would be a mild change. Also, it had to be a solution that should enable individuals using wheelchairs to meet their transportation need without any assistance, as this was one of our initial goals in this project. In this direction, we have decided to develop a project that would not cover a large space, to avoid its possible confliction to other systems under the ground. Since the proposed system will be applied on a one-way street, we have positioned our system on the sidewalk. As a result of our interview with our NGO design partner, we have learned that it should allow flexibility on its surface size because there is no single standard size for wheelchairs. Therefore, the design should have been a system that can adjust itself, specifically for different users’ requirements. The single piece of the surface where the wheelchair will be placed would be contradicting our concerns about the project's intended goals and our solution to add system details for safety. Therefore, we designed this surface as symmetrical, with two different surfaces, each having a front and a rear wheel. In order to change the size of the frame (expand, narrow or shorten) during its use, we have designed additional hidden surfaces within the main bodies.
Besides, to enable users to gain time and make it easier for them to find the stations, we have decided to offer an additional solution supporting the tRail machines. As a result, by supporting the system with a mobile app, we enable users to keep their information online with their memberships. With the tRail application, once member users login the tRail machines at the stations, the system will automatically start to personalise itself to the size of the registered wheelchair and thus the user will not have to enter additional information to the machine again. At the same time, the app will show tRail stops in the city, so users can easily see the nearest stop and reach it with the navigation feature.
The project has evolved into an easily accessible and easy-to-use system, which can be personalised for different users, supported by additional technological features. The fact that the area covered by our system and its features can be applied to other regions also met one of the main objectives that was determined at the beginning of our project. The project has been finalized with the wish that the system we have developed could be applied not only to Galata Tower and its surroundings but to all places with similar characteristics in our city, country, and the world at large, and hopefully be a step to overcome barriers.