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x0x Istanbuls last wooden houses

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  • Turkish Culture List
    [See more on this subject by visiting the pages selected for you by Anita Donohoe: http://turkradio.us/k/tahta/ ] x0x Istanbuls last wooden houses By Gul
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2008
      [See more on this subject by visiting the pages
      selected for you by Anita Donohoe:
      http://turkradio.us/k/tahta/ ]

      x0x Istanbuls last wooden houses

      By Gul Demir and Niki Gamm

      ISTANBUL - Once again the Istanbul Research Institute
      is hosting an exhibition devoted to the history of
      Istanbul. This time the history of Istanbuls wooden
      buildings is the subject, based on work that the
      Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute
      carried out up to the 1960s

      Istanbuls last wooden houses Over the centuries
      Istanbul has been the scene of devastating fires. Wood
      was the cheapest material and readily available along
      the Black Sea. It wasnt until the end of the 19th
      century that people began to take seriously the need to
      use materials other than wood in their buildings.
      Almost every year until then, wooden structures had
      been the source of fires. The first ferman or imperial
      decree about firefighting was issued already in 1560;
      the Janissaries were put in charge of firefighting; the
      first fire engine was built by a French engineer in
      1714; and Istanbul has had a fire department organized
      along modern lines for only 85 years.

      Most houses are two-storey or possibly three-storey
      with a storage area or place for servants or animals on
      the ground floor and a kitchen. A toilet would be in a
      separate small building perhaps attached to the house
      or a wall in the typical style of a hole in the ground
      over which you hovered to do your business.

      The central space, the sofa, was the center of
      everything from entertaining to cooking to sleeping.
      Furniture was sparse. Divans or stuffed pillows would
      line the walls and for eating, a tray would be set out
      and people would eat from the plates and bowls set out
      there. Then the tray would be put in one of the many
      cupboards in the walls. Sultan and slave would eat in
      the same way. At bedtime, the bedding and blankets
      would be brought out of their cupboards and unfolded on
      the floor. Everybody would spend the night like that
      and in the morning the blankets and would be returned
      to their respective places.

      Researchers have suggested that this use of a single,
      large central space for most living functions may have
      come from the tents that the nomadic Turkish tribes had
      u as they moved around Central Asia. There may be
      something to the idea since rooms opened off the
      central space but didnt open into each other; an
      opening in a tent would most likely lead to another
      tent room. Using timber also protected people in
      earthquake zones. Timbers bend when waves travel
      through solid substances unlike brick and stone. So the
      lower of the two floors would be made from stone or
      adobe and a geometric pattern would be created. In
      later centuries such as the 19th wood would also be
      used for creating designs especially for the lattices
      put over, cupboard doors, even staircases.

      The roof would be of the pitched type quite unlike the
      Mediterranean flat roof of red ceramic tiles. This
      latter was designed so that people could sleep on the
      roof during the heat of the summer and catch what they
      could of any cooling breeze. One person has described
      these roofs as looking like a tent. The garden would be
      located at the back if the area was large enough.
      Usually this would be enclosed by walls so that the
      women of the house could get out in the garden for air
      without be seen by passers-by.

      Wooden buildings could easily be added to if more
      people joined the family such as a son brought a bride
      home. Often a porch ran along one side of the house and
      could be reached from one or more of the rooms leading
      from the main room. The staircase had to reach the
      upper stories. This living above a ground floor has
      possibly been the origin of turning ground floor space
      into stores or small shops through which rental income
      might be gained.

      In more upper scale houses, there would be a division
      between the mens and the womens sides, the so-called
      selamlik where men received and entertained male guests
      and the haremlik or the part of the house where the
      women were located. The KIbrIslI Yali in Kucuksu had
      two parts divided like this although the haremlik side
      burned down, leaving only the selamlik side still
      standing The Mocan yali in Kuzguncuk also had two parts
      connected by a kitchen; however, fire broke out in the
      kitchen and the haremlik side burned down. Today people
      can only see the mens side.

      The Wooden Istanbul Exhibition

      Once again the Istanbul Research Institute, a part of
      the Suna and Inan KIrac Foundation, is hosting an
      exhibition devoted to the history of Istanbul. This
      time the history of Istanbuls wooden buildings is the
      subject, based on work that the Istanbul branch of the
      German Archaeological Institute carried out up to the
      1960s. During that period, many of Istanbuls wooden
      buildings G the wooden generation G disappeared either
      left to go to wreck and ruin until they couldnt be
      repaired and restored or mysterious fires would break
      out and none of the wooden buildings ever seemed to be
      save-able in spite of efforts by the Istanbul Fire
      Department. The exhibition at the Institute begins with
      the Amcazade YalI that was built in the 17th century
      and traces the history of Istanbuls wooden houses
      until the beginning of the 20th century with a house on
      Buyukada. It goes from the magnificent yalIs on the
      Bosporus up to the small bourgeois houses in the Zeyrek
      district. Included are plans, mockups and original
      examples from the German Archaeological Institutes
      rich photographic archive.

      The Turkish novelist and essayist Ahmet Hamdi TanpInar
      described Istanbuls wooden houses in terms of soft
      lines like velvet and colorfully decorated. But of
      course these houses are rarely found in that condition.
      The wood is rotting, no paint peeling off because there
      was no paint, window frames sagging, glass often
      broken, a stove pipe sticking out at a makeshift place
      but that, heaven forbid, has never seen a TV antenna.
      Often people inherited these houses but didnt have the
      funds to execute repairs or may not even have wanted to
      because they felt they were out-of-date. Interior space
      was more important than the facades of these buildings
      anyway but for people of limited means, renovation and
      even painting the outside of an old building might
      bring higher taxes.

      Dr. Martin Bachmann, the deputy director of the German
      Archaeological Institute in Istanbul, has pointed out
      that until the middle of the 20th century wooden houses
      dominated the Istanbul scene. But these buildings
      disappeared quickly as the city changed dramatically.
      However, the German Archaeological Institute undertook
      research in the 1960s in Istanbul into the citys
      wooden houses. This research showed that a large part
      of Istanbuls historic topography consisted of a varied
      microcosm and its architectural history was not limited
      to the Old City and the peninsula on which it stood.

      The exhibition not only aims at presenting the
      documentation of these wooden houses undertaken by the
      German Archaeological Institute but also at providing
      information about the planning and construction of the
      buildings and about the craftsmen and the architects. A
      catalogue has been prepared to go with "Wooden

      The exhibition is open until March 15, 2009 at the
      Istanbul Research Institute in Tepeba$I / Beyoglu.
      (0212) 334 09 00

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