A multi-faceted exploration of co-living with nature, within society, in the city, with heritage and with technology, brings forward a human-centered approach for the design of a better city.

World Design Talks Co-living – Izmir

World Design Organization (WDO)® held its fifth World Design Talks in Izmir (Turkey) on 29 June 2018 to address the issue of co-living in cities, from different perspectives. Here you will find an overview of the various themes and expected objectives related to the event. More details about the event and the full programme are available on the event’s official website.


Explore a summary of the events or read the paper published in Yedi, Journal of Art, Design And Science summarizing the learnings of this World Design Talks on co-living (available only in Turkish).

The Conversation

Although “Co-living” is not defined in the dictionaries, it conveys a general sense of “living together”. Today, we expand on that meaning, emphasizing our sense of community in sharing spaces and facilities, which can also be called “co-housing”. It is therefore with this background that the next World Design Talk will take a human-centered approach and focus on social relations that are embedded in a variety of forms and mediums in order to study the designing of a better city of Izmir as an example in a global world.

Venue and Date

Hosted by the Izmir Mediterranean Academy, Branch of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and coordination with WDO member organizations in Izmir: Izmir University of Economics, Department of Industrial Design; Industrial Designers’ Society of Turkey, Izmir Branch; Vestel Electronics, and other design communities from Izmir, the event took place at the Historical Gasworks Cultural Center on 29 June 2018.


Based on the rich and unique character of Izmir and in alignment with some of humanity’s biggest challenges, the conversation around “Co-living” aimed to identify both opportunities and challenges and enable a dialogue within a conceptual, global, and local framework from a design perspective.

Izmir has been a civilized city all along, blending a myriad of religions and cultures in mutual respect. To Izmirians, a co-existence or fusion of various cultures is not viewed as a threat but as richness; they cherish the importance of the dynamism and creativity brought about by difference. The modern concept of democracy, which allows each person to live the life and culture that they wish, is inextricably bound with the identity of Izmir and its inhabitants.

Aziz Kocaoğlu, Mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality

Themes and workshops

Five themes were chosen with case studies in each of them to serve as a framework to discuss “Co-living”. Each workshops proposed actions within the context of the city of Izmir:

1. Co-living with Nature

This workshop focused on the relations between humans and other living organisms and explored new ways of protecting the balance in the eco-system, in which humans give priority to nature in their economic, social, and cultural activities. Case studies explored:

2. Co-living within Society

This workshop focused on the relations between different communities/ identities in a society, and explored new ways of communication through shared experiences in daily lives. A special focus was made on migrations (internal-external) as Izmir has been a destination for Syrian refugees with over 90,000 refugees officially recorded. Case studies explored:

  • Social-class equality,
  • Gender equality

3. Co-living in the City

This workshop focused on the built environment and the service systems of the city that bring the citizens together. Equal accessibility to services and resources and facilitating random encounters of the citizens are amongst the challenges to address. Case studies explored:

  • Izmir Gulf as a coastal living
  • Izmir Culture Park as a public space
  • Co-working spaces
  • Co-housing
  • Urban transportation

4. Co-living with Heritage

This workshop focused on the complex relationship between people and heritage (and in a larger sense ‘cultural memory’) and attempted to explore new ways of learning from, and engaging with the past. How can aspects of cultural heritage (both tangible and intangible) become more integrated into the daily life of the city? Case studies explored:

  • Agora-Basmane-Kemeraltı region as the ancient and historic center
  • Industrial heritage of Izmir (electrical plant, Sümerbank, Tekel plant)
  • Population exchange in the history of Izmir

5. Co-living with Technology

This workshop focused on the relations between people and technology. The topic was addressed with a broad perspective, addressing how technology brings people together globally and within the media, how emerging technologies such as machine learning impose new relations between humans and machines, and how all other sub-themes of “Co-living” can be studied through the digital age.

Expected outcomes

The objective was to have workshop participants focus on the case studies to propose statements at various levels (i.e. Individual Level, Group Level, Institutional Level (non-governmental), and Governmental Level) that would question what they can do, or not do, as designers/women/citizens etc., within in their own apartments, streets, neighborhoods and organizations.

About the Izmir Mediterranean Academy, Branch of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality

Founded in 2012, the Izmir Mediterranean Academy is both a think-tank and a democratic platform for realizing Izmir’s new vision of improvement which focuses on making Izmir a city of innovation and design, establishing closer ties with other cities in and around the Mediterranean; and setting an example for democratic and participative practices in urban policy making. The Academy acted as the bidding entity for Izmir’s candidature for the World Design Capital® (WDC) 2020.

About the city of Izmir

A strategic portal city

Izmir is located on the Aegean Sea in the westernmost part of Anatolian Peninsula. It is the third most populous city of Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara with a population over 4 million. It is the second leading port after Istanbul with its large and sheltered harbor. It is one of the oldest port cities of the Mediterranean. During the Ottoman period, it became a major international port and attracted significant overseas business.

Between the East and the West

Along with the trade came the diversity of backgrounds – Levantines, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Jewish and Muslim Turks, who together formed a city of tolerance. Izmir has long constituted a borderland between civilizations, ethnicities, and religions in its process of evolution from Smyrna (the name of the ancient city) to Izmir. The current urban identity of Izmir and its population has been deeply influenced by its historical heritage and multicultural past.

A window on modern Turkey

Izmir has fully embraced Western values and lifestyle. Izmir inhabitants take pride in their image as the most democratic and western face in Turkey. The city enjoys a liberal and secular atmosphere in which the appreciation of art and design holds a central place in the population’s worldview and daily life.

A city by the sea

Izmir shares the Mediterranean climate, food, and healthy life. It is a living city known for its ‘life on the streets’. This life is combined with the culture of all citizens using the sea and the waterfront. The sea is part of the daily life of the people. Perception of a slow and calm lifestyle is part of the culture, which sometimes contradicts with its global economic ambitions. This is what makes the city unique.

Summary and Report

View the infographic summary of the Talk

Read the full report of the Talk

Photos from the event

Videos from the event