The houses of Safranbolu reflect the history; the culture, the economy, the way of life and the technology of the Turkish society in the 18th and the 19th centuries.
Safranbolu is within the physical environment of the traditional Turkish house, due to its geographical location. As a result of the limitations of transport and consequently of communication, it has been able to preserve its traditional way of life better and for a much longer period than other regions. Its self-sufficient economy and level of production has secured an easy life. It has never faced major problems such as population explosion.
The city has been situated on an extremely interesting site where the settlements are in perfect harmony with the topography. The love of its people for nature, coupled with the need for production as a prerequisite for self-sufficient economy have led to the summer settlements and production areas. Having the economic means for it, its inhabitants managed to realize this dual settlement in the best possible manner. It can be seen that environmental factors have been fully incorporated into the design of houses alongside the historical development. The self-sufficient economy and the traditional way of life is also reflected in every phase of the design. Thus the form emerges as the synthesis of activities which take place within. The man made environment is in full compliance with the way of life and the physical environment.
The same data would probably lead to the same solutions with design concepts of our day. We can identify this rational and man orientated approach in the construction methods as well as in the design of the houses.
When studying these houses we are continually faced with human value judgements. Houses have been designed and built for the happiness and comfort of the human being. Everything is for man. This judgement leads us to the discussion of present trends in the architecture of housing. Can we say that although they aim at the human being, the approved values of our day are in fact for the benefit of man? Living in crowded cities and the new dimensions attained by economy and technology have altered man’s house, which in a way, is his shell. This shell is no longer formed according to the requirements of man; man has to adapt himself to it. This is now a world-wide concern. All parts of the world tend to look alike as local characteristics disappear. No one is very happy about the concept of the “big city”. It has been widely accepted that it is a development with many adverse effects. There is no chance of shrinking the existing cities to a preferable size, but it may at least be possible to put an end to the ever-increasing densities. This can be realized by limiting or in a sense freezing the size of existing cities and building several smaller cities around them. It is in designing these new cities that we can make u:se of the settlement patterns (or design principles) of old cities. Examples such as Safranbolu where a harmonious relation was accomplished between nature, man and his house can be guiding. The organization of the street network, the relationship between the house and the street or the market and the street, the layout of the building plots, the density, the neighbourhoods and districts may well be worth studying. Old examples can also guide us in aesthetic features such as form, materials, texture, color, contrast, livelines, tones, dominance, reccurrance and balance. We can sense and develop concepts such as the happiness of humanity, the independence of the individual and the nature-oriented way of life through the study of old cities. It may well be that man does not need all the amenities the modern world has to offer; if he is conscious of what he has to sacrifice from his inner-self in order to achieve these. We can draw this conclusion by looking at old cities and comprehending the way of life which gave them their form. The conservation of cities and the features which characterize the traditional way of life will keep our cultural history alive and will cast a light on tomorrow, as was the case with Safranbolu, which has been the source of inspiration for all these thoughts.