Turks bristle at botched heritage tenders

Turks bristle at botched heritage tenders
The restoration of Galata Tower in Istanbul attracted controversy. (AFP)
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Updated 03 December 2020

Turks bristle at botched heritage tenders

Turks bristle at botched heritage tenders
  • Criticism from residents managed to block the demolition of one of its walls with a jackhammer as part of a restoration

ISTANBUL: With sloppy restoration work and damaged or disfigured historical monuments, experts say a race for profits, ideological considerations and favoritism are leaving sensitive upkeep of cultural heritage by the wayside in Turkey.

In August the Galata Tower — an emblematic 14th-century Istanbul landmark — became the latest monument at the heart of a dispute. Criticism from residents managed to block the demolition of one of its walls with a jackhammer as part of a restoration, only after a video of workers using the power tool leaked on social media.

Culture Minister Nuri Ersoy tried to smooth things over, saying that the destroyed section was not an original part of the tower and announcing “sanctions” against the construction chiefs for using the heavy-duty equipment.

But in recent years, the list of poorly renovated monuments has grown, ranging from Roman mosaics damaged by a botched restoration to concrete piled up in the middle of an ancient amphitheater or unrecognizable mosques and citadels.

For Osman Koker, founder of the gallery “Birzamanlar” — a venue to display the country’s cultural diversity — a “harshness” toward ancient buildings has always existed in Turkey, aimed especially at erasing traces of non-Muslim minorities.

The picture was much brighter in the early 2000s, when Recep Tayyip Erdogan — now president — first became prime minister.

“Restoring buildings with high symbolic value was prioritized back then, as part of efforts to join the EU,” Koker said.

In 2011, the highly successful restoration of the 10th-century Armenian church on Akdamar island in Lake Van in eastern Turkey received praise from many experts. But Ankara’s estrangement from the EU in recent years and a hard-line turn in Erdogan’s policies have transformed the situation, said Korhan Gumus, an architect specializing in preservation of cultural heritage.

“Tenders for renovations are awarded to favored companies which have established a monopoly. And the projects are above all aimed at making profits,” he lamented. “The renovations are managed entirely by construction calls for tenders, without prior reflection on their history.” 

Rather than preserving “parts added by different civilizations” over the centuries or millennia, project specifications often call for “a restitution of the original, which leads to grotesque results,” he added.

The culture ministry — in charge of maintaining historic monuments — did not respond to the criticism when contacted.

It was Mahir Polat, cultural heritage director for Istanbul’s municipal government, who raised the alarm on the use of the jackhammer during the restoration work at Galata Tower.

The municipality, run by the main opposition CHP party since 2019, lodged an immediate complaint, only for the culture ministry to reject its appeal to inspect the project.

“When restoration is seen only as a construction activity and when we forget that the monument reflects the centuries it has passed through, we miss the objective of preservation,” Polat said.


Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results
Updated 22 January 2021

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

Intel avoids outsourcing embrace, investigates hack of results

The incoming chief executive of Intel Corp. said on Thursday that most of the company’s 2023 products will be made in Intel factories but he sketched a dual-track future in which it will lean more heavily on outside factories.
The lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing from new CEO Pat Gelsinger drove shares down 4.7% after hours. Shares rose 6.5% during regular trade, when the results were released ahead of the close. The company said it was investigating “non-authorized” access to some of the results, with the Financial Times quoting its chief financial officer as saying the microchip maker had been hacked.
Intel also forecast first-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street expectations, continuing to benefit from pandemic demand for laptops and PCs that have powered the shift to working and playing from home.
Gelsinger said he was “confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally” though he also said the use of outside chip factories is likely to increase “for certain technologies and products.”
Intel has been considering since last July whether to drop its decades-old strategy of both designing and making chips by turning for help on its central processing units, or CPUS, to “foundry” manufacturers. Those partners could be Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics. Intel’s manufacturing technology, called a 7-nanometer process, is expected in 2023.
“We didn’t get our answer on which foundries and when,” said Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy. “They pushed the can down the road.”
Kinngai Chan, analyst at Summit Insights Group, said Intel is not likely to outsource its flagship chips.
“Intel’s 14-nanometer chip transistor speed has always been faster than what any foundry can offer even at 7-nanometer,” Chan said. “We believe it will increase its use of external foundries over-time — just not for its large-core CPUs.”
Keeping manufacturing in-house means higher investments. Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon questioned whether Gelsinger, currently the chief executive of VMware Inc. who previously spent 30 years at Intel and announced his intention to return just last week, has had sufficient time to dig into the issue.
“It was pretty obvious they were trying to borrow his credibility” when Gelsinger endorsed Intel’s delayed 7-naonmeter technology, Rasgon said.
Intel’s decision coincides with US lawmakers having passed bipartisan legislation to fund US chip manufacturing. But the new law has yet to specify funding levels or recipients, and Forrester Research analyst Glenn O’Donnell said Intel might take the opportunity to solicit US government support for domestic manufacturing.
Boosted by a new high-end PC processor, Intel regained some momentum in the PC market, with volumes of PC chips rising 33%, faster than the 26% rise for the overall PC market, according to data from IDC.
Data center group sales, which powered Intel’s growth over the past several years, were $6.1 billion compared with analyst estimates of $5.48 billion, according to FactSet data.
But sales to cloud computing customers, some of the largest and fastest-growing purchasers of data center chips, were down 15% in the fourth quarter. Data center chip operating margins were 34% in the quarter, down from 48% a year earlier.
“We think (data center) operating margins are going to improve as we get toward the second half of the year, when we expect to see a rebound in cloud” chip sales, Intel Chief Financial Officer George Davis said.
The company also raised its dividend by 5%.
The chipmaker said it expects fiscal first-quarter adjusted sales of $17.5 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.10, both ahead of analyst consensus, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Fourth-quarter revenue of $20 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.52 also beat Wall Street targets.