The design of a house develops under a variety of influences, one of the most significant being the historical evolution of the house. Mankind cannot easily break away from traditions, habits and experiences. Consequently their influence can be continuously traced within the development process.
When we study the Turkish house of Anatolia, we can see the traces of nomadic life. These traces emerge more clearly in the design of the room which is handled as an individual living unit and in the relations between the hall and the room. If we assume that the room corresponds to a tent or a “round house” then the hall represents the outer space between the tents. In the older examples the hall is open to nature all around, although it is under roof cover. The hall or the outer space totally encircles the room.
We can see the same basic features in Safranbolu. Some of the older houses have open
halls. In some others, the extensions of the hall, the eyvans, secure an outer space for each room by separating them from one another. Each room is the “home” of the family unit. Consequently, it is the room which is most significant in the concept of home. The house design is based on the room and its surroundings. The size and design of a room is almost invariable. Having no alternative room design, the main feature of the house is predefined. The other units of the house are function-oriented. Apart from the rooms there is a toilet-washroom, a pantry and a staircase. The ground floor has its own functions and is designed accordingly.
Houses with open halls The oldest houses encountered in Safranbolu are those with open halls. Whatever the position of the hall in relation to the rooms, the fact that there are no precautions against weather conditions such as rain, snow or wind can be explained by the traditional design of the hall. These are the few remaining examples in evidence that there were once, houses with open halls in Safranbolu. We can assume that in time primarily the winter houses changed into the closed-hall plan types, and that the summer houses followed this new trend.
Characteristics of the Ottoman Classical Period Another important feature worth noting from the point of historical evolution is that the characteristics of the classical period prevailed for a considerable time in Safranbolu. The Baroque style was introduced quite recently and was not very effective.
RELATIONS BETWEEN THE HOUSE AND THE BUllDING SITE
Apart from its utility programme, the form and topography of the building site, its position in relation to the landscape and the street are the main factors that influence the house design. There are some differences between the houses in the sehir (the winter quarters) and the Baglar districts (the summer quarters) in this respect. The plots in the sehir are small, irregular and most significantly, they are on sharp inclines; whereas in the Baglar region they are larger and almost flat. Generally the house is built over the garden wall bordering the street. On steeper sites this may take the form of a retaining wall and thus be thicker and higher. Sometimes it may run up to the mezzanine floor.
In small and irregular plots, the ground floor corresponds to the shape of the plot. The middle floor may either have projections in anticipation of the rectangular plan of the top floor or is rather insignificant as an intermediary floor. On the top floor a strictly rectangular layout is secured by projections. In most cases these projections have either a triangular or a trapezoidal base.
Consequently, the supporting brackets can vary in size. These projections and brackets highly enliven the facades of houses. In small plots it is even more important to enlarge the rooms through projections. The triangular projections enable an unobstructed view of the landscape and street. On steeper sites, it is possible to enter the house from more than one level. These can either be separate entrances for the harem and selamlik, or can be utilized for easy access to the storage units in the hayat, where fire-wood or foodstuff is stored. Houses situated on corners where streets of differing slopes meet are designed in perfect harmony with the topography and the streets. Their thrilling forms give the impression of having been moulded by a sculptor.
In plots which are more suitable, especially in those of the Baglar district, all the floors develop within a rectangular system or have somewhat the same features as the top floor . Very rarely is the top floor also a continuation of the ground floor. Generally it is either the eyvan of the central hall or the rooms that protrude. We may come across houses which in spite of the suitability of the plot, have chosen to distort the ground floor slightly and enliven the top floors with bay windows and projections. It can be strongly sensed that the conscious artistic preferences are as valid as the wish to provide each room with sufficient sun or shade and with an unobstructed view of the street and landscape.