In Turkey, since the middle of the 1940s, gecekondu (squatter) settlements have emerged in an urban context characterised by rapid rural-to-urban migration, inefficient administrative structures and intense land speculation. Today, some practices of the early gecekondu are still in use, while its dwellers have introduced new strategies to avoid demolition, get access to infrastructure and achieve legalisation. Recent gecekondu builders by-pass planning authorities by adopting tools of formal planning. At the same time local authorities bend their own rules and tend to tolerate informalities.
Umut Duyar-Kienast is a city and regional planner. She has been working as a freelance consultant in community development and slum upgrading projects in Turkey, Germany and Mozambique.