Lucien Arkas Park: A Green Oasis in Izmir Bayraklı

The lush green park, strategically situated on approximately nine acres of land parallel to the Manda Stream in front of the Mistral Towers in Izmir Bayraklı, has been officially named Lucien Arkas Park, thanks to a decision by the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Council.

The inception of the Lucien Arkas Park project dates back to 2016, and it now encompasses an impressive 8,900 square meters of space. Notably, it stands as a public park that harmonizes seamlessly with its immediate environment while catering to the broader community.

During the opening ceremony of the Lucien Arkas Park, Mayor Tunç Soyer of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality expressed, “Some business leaders continue to feel a sense of responsibility towards their city, even after they have dutifully paid their taxes. They ponder, ‘What more can I do for this city?’ and contribute wholeheartedly. Lucien Arkas exemplifies this spirit perfectly. Not only are you constructing art centers and parks, but we also feel indebted to you. I wish all business leaders shared your generosity. Thank you for being here.”

Lucien Arkas, Chairman of Arkas Holding, delivered a heartfelt speech during the park’s inauguration. He emphasized the vital role of enhancing a concrete-heavy urban environment, which is an integral part of modern urban planning, and contributing to enabling urban dwellers, who are increasingly disconnected from nature, to reconnect with plants and soil. He expressed his gratitude to Tunç Soyer and the Metropolitan Municipality Council and stated, “Everyone knows how much I love Izmir. I have a deep appreciation for greenery as well. Being able to view so much art while spending time outdoors amidst these buildings, within this beautiful garden and among these trees, I hope, brings joy to everyone who comes to visit.”

Promoting Biodiversity through Landscape Design

The park’s botanical design revolves around using drought-resistant, low-maintenance, local, and adaptive plant species. These include nine types of deciduous trees such as Mulberry, Olive, Lime, Camphor, Ginkgo, Jacaranda, Gardenia, Monkey Puzzle, and Coral Tree. The plant island at the entrance features Palm, Dwarf Palm, Sikas, and Dwarf Date Palm species. Overall, the park showcases 19 distinct plant species and nearly 5,000 shrubs, with an additional 2,000 Cretan Roses thoughtfully planted. The park’s pathway, composed of iconic “Mulberry Trees” well-rooted in Izmir’s urban heritage, offers pedestrian and bicycle access. The park’s objectives include facilitating social interaction, air purification, noise filtration, and the creation of shaded areas to enhance climate comfort, all while bolstering endangered biodiversity in light of the climate crisis.

Lucien Arkas Park: Home to Seven Arkas Collection Sculptures

Lucien Arkas highlighted, “To me, the project would have felt incomplete without incorporating art into this green haven. Through this park, Arkas has brought art to the great outdoors and into a public space for the very first time. We have introduced seven sculptures from the Arkas Collection, crafted by esteemed Turkish sculptor artists Varol Topaç, Selçuk Yılmaz, İlker Yardımcı, Ozan Ünal, and Malik Bulut, as well as Marino Di Prospera and Agnesa Petrova.”

One of these sculptures, “Simurg,” situated by the pool at the entrance of the Mistral office, is a nod to the Simurg legend. It tells the story of 30 birds embarking on a challenging journey to Mount Qaf, where they believe the Simurg will save them from their troubles. In the end, the birds discover that they themselves are the Simurg (Si: Thirty, Murg: Bird in Persian). Malik Bulut’s creation, “Medusa,” is designed as a charm and protector, emphasizing the healing aspects of the inner world. “Lyrical Composition” by İlker Yardımcı underscores a sculpture’s role as a visual poem, portraying a simple and plain structure that captivates viewers as an everyday attraction. This work is one of the sculptor’s culminating and highly distinctive works. The artwork “Izmirli” carries the signature of sculptor Varol Topaç. This piece presents a symbolic portrait of a free, self-assured woman, embodying an element of nature, a facet of the Mediterranean climate, and a parallelism between the breeze and a woman.

Among the most intriguing and attention-grabbing sculptures in the collection, “People,” bears the signature of sculptor Ozan Ünal. “People” actively engages viewers as part of the artwork itself, inviting them to contemplate their feelings and thoughts about the present and the future. The figures depicted in the artwork, hovering between descent and ascent, open up to various sociological interpretations.

The sculpture “Hug,” crafted by Marino Di Prospera and added to the Arkas Collection in previous years, symbolizes an embrace and carries references to art history. “Florescence,” created by Agnesa Petrova, highlights the theme of blossoming and the cycle of life through its reference to flowers.