Istanbul, Türkiye(1)

2023-09-28 11:02:01

İstanbul Play Master Plan



· Population size: 15907951

· Population Growth Rate(%): 0.42

· Surface Area (sq. km): 5461

· Population Density (people/ 2994

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The "Play Istanbul Master Plan," collaboratively developed with experts, organizations, and citizens and rooted in children's "right to play" (UN Convention - Rights of the Child, Article 31), encompasses literature reviews, benchmarking, quality assessments of play spaces, and strategic framework with 5 targets, 24 strategies, and 39 specific actions. It aims to enhance livability, well-being, and community development through diverse public space recreation, promoting physical activity for all ages, and emphasizing universal play.


Key projects include:

1.) The establishment of the "Play and Recreation Department" to implement projects

aligned with the "Play Istanbul Master Plan."

2.) Organizing "pop-up playgrounds" in numerous locations, particularly in disadvantaged areas, to reach children with limited access to parks.

3.) Creating a "recycling workshop" to repurpose old play equipment into new playgroups.

4.) Developing "nature detective routes" in İBB-managed forests and urban woodlands, where children learn about various plant species along free routes.

5.) Engaging children in designing new parks through the "Children Design Their Parks" project, involving drawing and model workshops to realize their creative ideas.

6.) Transforming parks into "wooden and accessible play areas."



The Istanbul Play Master Plan operates within a comprehensive legislative and policy framework that encompasses various international and national agreements and regulations. This framework includes the (SDGs), particularly Goal 11 on "Sustainable Cities and Communities." It aligns with the European Union Charter on the Protection of Human Rights in the City, emphasizing equal access to high-quality spaces for all residents. Furthermore, it adheres to Turkish national laws, such as the Spatial Plans Construction Regulation and Law No. 5378 on People with Disabilities, which mandate accessible and inclusive urban planning.



Between 2019 and 2022 in Istanbul, a three-year analysis revealed the following regional issues:

 • Deficit in active green space per capita (4.48 m2/person).

• Limited availability of large green and playground areas.

• Lack of activity diversity in green spaces.

• Accessibility challenges to green areas and playgrounds.

• Limited provision of regular park activities.

• Over-standardization of playgrounds.

• Uneven distribution of playgrounds.

• Insufficient equipment for babies and young children.

• Limited socialization spaces for adolescents and young people.

• Limited opportunities for shared play.

• Insufficient variety of activities and play value.

• Lack of nature-based solutions.


A.) The plan envisions a city that:  

• where outdoor play is a child's right.

•offering diverse recreation opportunities.

• promoting health and well-being through outdoor play.

• fostering spontaneous play in public spaces.

• Provide varied play services based on community needs.

• sustainable and safer urban environment.

B.) The Plan 2030 has five targets:

1. Transform into a Playable City: Enhance public space play opportunities.

2. Enhance Nature-Human Interaction: Promote natural play areas.

3. Provide Equal Play: Inclusiveness

4. Create a Play Culture: Cultivate citywide play culture.

5. Provide Reliable Play: Maintain safe play spaces


A.) Pilot Projects:

• Orienteering and Hiking Exploration

• Natural Playground Transformation

• Forest Week Events

• Digital Gamification in Green Spaces

• Accessible WC and Baby Care Units

• Recreation for Intellectually Disabled Individuals

• Improved Sports Equipment and Programs

• Pop-up Playgrounds

• Children Designing Their Parks

• Play Flows Into The City: Surface Games

• Information Signs for Play, Sports, and Recreation Areas

B.) Management Team:

• Istanbul Play Coordination Committee

• IMM Parks, Gardens, and Green Areas Department Structure

• Istanbul Play Master Plan Commission

• Play and Recreation Chief

Collaboration for pilot projects includes experts, academics, NGOs, citizens, and children.


The Istanbul Play initiative promotes an innovative partnership model within the public sector, emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach to planning and implementing pilot projects. It involves:

1. Istanbul Play Coordination Committee: This inter-departmental formation within the IMM ensures cooperation and coordination for play-friendly practices.

2. Istanbul Play Master Plan Commission: Within the IMM Department of Parks, Gardens, and Green Areas, this entity handles play and recreation infrastructure implementation.

3. Play and Recreation Chief: Responsible for technical controls and inspections, they actively participate in all stages of the management plan. This collaborative approach enhances recreational opportunities, benefiting residents and promoting a better quality of life.


The implementation of the Istanbul Play Master Plan involves several key actions:

Action 11 (Strategy 7): Establishing a municipal management structure to coordinate and execute the plan's targets among different IMM departments. This ensures efficient allocation of municipal resources and clear responsibilities within the organization.

Action 27 (Strategy 16): Encouraging participatory practices and supporting active participation and volunteering in the design phase of recreation areas. This leverages human resources, volunteer groups, and user input in shaping play-friendly spaces.

Additional Insights: Currently, nearly 99% of areas do not have dedicated playworkers or volunteers for regular activities, but a significant portion has the potential for such initiatives. Additionally, 65% of playgrounds offer suitable spaces for exhibitions, festivals, and daily activities.


These actions require the allocation of both human and technical resources, emphasizing collaborative efforts and volunteer engagement in line with the Istanbul Play Master Plan's objectives.



The initiative can be considered both evolutionary and, to some extent, revolutionary in its approach to urban planning and play integration. It builds upon accumulated knowledge and lessons learned from experience, which align with the evolutionary aspect of the initiative. Over time, urban planning strategies have evolved to acknowledge the importance of outdoor play and physical activity, recognizing their impact on community well-being. However, the initiative also bears elements of revolution and disruption within the context of urban development. It introduces a comprehensive and innovative approach to prioritizing outdoor play and recreation in city planning, challenging traditional urban design norms. While some elements, like the importance of play and physical activity, are not entirely new, their integration into urban planning on such a scale, with dedicated strategies and budgets, is relatively novel in the sector and context of Istanbul.


This approach involves a degree of risk, as it requires a departure from conventional urban planning practices. The initiative embraces modern tools and technologies, diversified financing models, and a strong focus on community participation and inclusivity, which collectively represent a revolutionary shift in the urban development landscape of Istanbul.


In summary, the Istanbul Play Master Plan represents an evolutionary development rooted in experience and accumulated knowledge while simultaneously introducing revolutionary elements by redefining the role of play in urban design and fostering a healthier, more vibrant, and connected city environment.



The Istanbul Play Master Plan aims to create a transformative impact at the local and regional levels by enhancing the quality of life through increased access to high-quality play and recreation spaces, encouraging physical activity, social interaction, and a profound connection to the natural environment, ultimately fostering healthier lifestyles and stronger community bonds, with expected outcomes including improved physical and mental well-being, heightened utilization of green spaces, and heightened environmental consciousness among Istanbul's residents.


The Istanbul Play Master Plan utilizes various data sources:

1. Green Space Data: Quantity and distribution of green spaces.

2. Playground Evaluation: Assessments on factors like accessibility and safety.

3. Population Data: Demographics, including age, disability, and density.

4. Accessibility Standards: Walking distance criteria.

5. Special Education and Rehabilitation Centers: Their presence and distribution.

This data guides decision-making for planners and policymakers. Importantly, the data is disaggregated to account for age, gender, income group, and disability status, ensuring that the planning process caters to the diverse needs of Istanbul's population.


The innovation primarily targets urban areas within Istanbul, focusing on inclusive play and

recreation spaces citywide. It emphasizes disadvantaged communities, ensuring equal access to high-quality play areas for all ages and abilities. The innovation transforms urban areas into inclusive, nature-friendly spaces, enhancing Istanbul's diverse population's quality of life. The Master Plan's vision holds paramount significance as it shapes the entire framework for the Istanbul Play initiative.


Istanbul Play Master Plan presently benefits millions of residents across diverse demographics, fostering inclusivity for people of all ages, genders, and abilities. As the plan advances, its reach is anticipated to grow, progressively enhancing urban life and recreation opportunities for an even broader segment of the population. Demographic breakdowns will be continually refined to ensure equitable access and engagement for all community members, reinforcing the commitment to creating a truly inclusive city.



Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable  

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities - The plan promotes inclusive, safe, and green urban spaces, contributing to sustainable cities and communities.

Target 2: Access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all