Architects urge authorities to halt illegal construction in Diyarbakır

The Turkish Chamber of Architects in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Thursday called on courts to tak action against 181 buildings in the historic quarter of Sur that had received construction permits, local news site Güneydoğu Express reported

The ancient district of Sur, which is encircled by fortress walls and flanked by gardens just beyond them, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Sur was the city’s economic and cultural centre until the district was battered between late 2015 and early 2016, when fighting broke out between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The fighting forced Sur’s largely Kurdish residents to flee the district and resulted in large-scale destruction of property. Much of the area has since been demolished for redevelopment to include wider streets and new police stations.

Şerefhan Aydın, the president of Diyarbakır’s Chamber of Architects, said in a press briefing that the organisation had identified around 100 buildings certified as meeting official standards, as well as 250 that were eligible for certification, which had been demolished by Turkish authorities. 

“During our inspections as the Chamber of Architects, we identified irregularities in the procedure for granting construction permits for 181 faux-basalt buildings in Fatih Paşa, Hasırlı and Dabanoğlu neighbourhoods,” Aydın said. 

The architect said the projects’ architects had been unqualified, and that by approving the plans the authorities had failed to fulfil their responsibilities. 

The chamber has started legal procedures over the buildings, Aydın said, adding that the lengthy legal process and arbitrary attitudes had made the task difficult. 

The architect said the basalt stone was a defining characteristic of Sur and removing the requirement to use basalt stone in buildings would mean damaging the historic and architectural texture of the district.