The Turkish House can be defined as the types of houses which Turks have
lived in throughout history. Since they first appeared on the stage of history,
their settlement areas have been greately diversified: They have spread from
Central Asia to the Balkans, from North Africa to Arabia and right up to the
north coast of the Black Sea, and have evolved into several different forms. In
our definition of the Turkish House, for the purpose of this study, we have only
included those that were inherited from the Ottoman Empire, remaining examples
some of which can be traced back to the 17th century.
A typical Turkish House should have the following characteristics:
Original room arrangement: The room is the main component of the
Turkish House. Throughout the studied period its characteristics have barely
Plan Layout: The most characteristic plan types are those with outer
or open sofas, utilizing projections and eyvans. The authentic aspect of these
plan types is the independent nature of the room, which instead of being
adjacent is separated from the other with the extentions of the sofa, (see
Turkish House Plan Types Fig.1). Plan types with central sofas emerge in the
Multi-storey buildings: Most houses have at least two storeys. The
upper storey is the living area and has the to suit plan layout. The ground
floor generally has a high, solid stone wall, almost like a fortification. The
upper floor extends over the street with projections.
Form of the roof: The roof slopes on all four sides and has a simple
form, avoiding indents or extentions. The eaves are wide and horizontal.
Construction: The basic system of construction is the timber frame
with infilling material or the lathe and plaster.
All these characteristics are the same for all houses, regardlesss of the
societal class of their owner. Wealth is only reflected in the number of rooms
and the decoration. This house type is like a seal the Turkish culture has
stamped wherever it has set foot. It can immediately be discriminated from the
houses belonging to other cultures, and makes its presence felt.
Few people have made thorough studies of the Turkish House. Sedad Hakki
Eldem, who was quick to notice the significance of the Turkish House and began
to put together all documentation he could find as a young professional, made
the earliest, most comprehensive and competent studies in this field. Some of
these were published only a short time before his death. Thus we can study the
last significant examples of the Turkish House from his books. Archeologist
Mahmut Akok has also contributed to the field with his measured drawings and
articles on houses from various regions. In the 1950s, several thesis were
prepared in the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Istanbul,
on the domestic architecture of important towns. After a mute period of almost
20 years, recently doctoral thesis or student studies have once again taken up
the subject, and using more scientific methods they are mainly concentrating on
studies of the smaller towns.
The main reason for this recent interest is the recognition of the fact that
the traditional housing pattern is rapidly disappearing and losing character as
new buildings emerge. Nevertheless, the Turkish House is still an astonishing
subject. Wandering among Turkish houses you may come across some admirable ones
not yet discovered. Most of these may not have measured drawings; may not even
have been photographed properly.