ISTANBUL - Istanbul will freshen up its appearance, painting the exteriors of neglected buildings between the airport and the city center in preparation to be the 2010 European Capital of Culture, daily Vatan reported Sunday.

The project, led by the Paint Industrialists’ Foundation, or BOSAD, will require 5,000 tons of paint.

The agency organizing the cultural capital project and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality made the decision to paint the buildings. While waiting for the bureaucratic procedures to be completed and support for the project to be gathered, all of the buildings near the TEM highway were inspected to determine which are in need of attention. The inspection found 172 such buildings in the Bayrampaşa area.

Ahmet Yiğitbaşı, president of the Acting Board of BOSAD, said underpasses and overpasses would also be included in the project and that in addition to painting the buildings, maintenance assistance would also be offered to those in need. Yiğitbaşı said the project would start once the local administration issued its approval.

Last year, Turkey used 560,000 tons of paint, 55 percent of it for construction projects. The 5,000 tons needed for this project will thus comprise 1.6 percent of the country’s annual consumption of construction paint. Yiğitbaşı said paint manufacturers that are members of BOSAD would support the project by providing both paint and workers.

Promoting painting

BOSAD sees the Istanbul project as a way to promote increased paint consumption and is running an advertising campaign to that end.

Back when Turkey’s cities were growing without any urban planning, people could paint the exterior surfaces of their buildings any color they wanted. One in the claret red and blue of the owner’s favorite football team might sit next to others painted in green, pink or purple. Under the new regulations, municipalities must approve the exterior colors of buildings.