There are several factors which determine the design of houses within the expansive boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. The local house forms were determined first of all by domestic traditions and way of life, also by such factors as the climate, materials, construction systems and economy, much before the Ottomans. South-Eastern Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, Egypt, Iraq and the Arab Peninsula managed to preserve their vernecular architecture during the Ottoman period. In Central Anatolia, where the main determinants are the climatic conditions and available building materials, two different trends evolved: The adobe (mud-brick) architecture dating back to antiquity , or stone buildings which developed under Syrian influence. The southwestern border of the Empire (Mora and the Islands) has kept the traditional Mediterrenean culture. The Eastern Black Sea region has a highly developed wooden architecture. Eastern Anatolia and the Iranian border are under the influence of Iran and Central Asia.
In areas where the Ottoman culture was fully effective, houses adopted all the characteristics of the Turkish House, whereas in regions with a strong vernacular tradition or where it was difficult to supply wood, the Ottoman influence began with decoration and building components. From the 19th century onwards the influence of the Turkish house became more apparent with the adoptation of plan types and building methods in North Mrica (Egypt), Syria-Palestine, Eagean Islands, Middle and South Eastern Anatolia and Eastern Black Sea regions.
Centering around Istanbul and Edirne, the Marmara and Trace regions and a wide coastal strip of Anatolia of present day Turkey are naturally within the boundaries of the Turkish House. There being no established tradition of domestic architecture, the Turkish House found root and flourished easily in Bulgaria, in Dobrogea (Romania), Greek and Yugoslavian Macedonia, Theselia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania, producing some of its most beautiful examples.
Several characteristics of the Turkish House can also be found in Crimea. This can partly be explained by the keen interest the Khan, a relative of the Ottoman dynasty , had for Istanbul.
In countries beyond the boundaries of present day Turkey,examples of the Turkish house are either very few or have become obsolete. Nevertheless, it is possible to come across some fascinating houses in some regions of Macedonia, Bosna-Herzegovina, Theselya and Bulgaria; houses which today have no match in Anatolia. As a matter of fact, when the subject is studied taking into consideration the entire boundary of the Ottoman Empire, it is apparent that the argument that Anatolia had any priority over the other regions is definitly not valid. At the end of the 19th century, while the Ottomans were withdrawing from these lands, the Neo-classical trends which were gaining influence in Europe were primarily applied to traditional architecture and later to all new architecture.
Researchers have divided the houses within the boundaries of present day Turkey into several groups. The grouping is always done according to building materials: e.g. wooden carcass, adobe, stone, massive wood. With reference to Eldem’s classification, regions with different types of houses can be listed as below:
Black Sea coast (Amasra-Trabzon): Wood building; supports of projections horizontal; initially with open sofas, from 19 th century onwards with inner or central sofas.Eastem Black Sea (Trabzon- Coruh, Gumushane, Ardahan): Divided into squares with frequent wooden bracing with single stone infill; wide eaves; enclosed sofa. Northern Anatolia (Goynuk, Mudurnu, Safranbolu, Kastamonu, Cankiri, Corum, Yozgat, Merzifon, Amasya, Tokat): Wooden binding and mudbrick infill, supports of projections horizontal; enclosed sofa.
Ankara (Ayas, Beypazari): Wooden binding; brick or mudbrick infill; stepped overlapping projections; inner sofas. Marmara Region (Bursa, Edirne, Istanbul): The characteristics of the Turkish house evolved in this region and has influenced all others. For this reason, the house types of this region have been taken up in more detail in the relevant chapter of the book. Western Anatolia (areas bordered by Canakkale, Balikesir, Usak, Egridir, Antalya): A stone ground floor and a timber frame upper floor with mudbrick infill; supports of projections curved or “bagdadi” (lathe and plaster); tiled roof; with outer sofa.
Eagean Coast and Islands (Ayvalik, Izmir, Lesbos, Khios, Samos): Stone build one or two story buildings with wooden or “bagdadi” projections on the upper floor; latter examples under neo-classical influence. Bodrom (Marmaris, Datca): stone built one story; flat roof; cubic form. High plateaus of the Tourus Mountains (Akseki, Pozanti): Dry walls with frequent bracing (mixed use of wooden bracing and wood planking). Mediterranien Coast (Antalya, Adatia): Wooden bracing; outer sofa. Central Anatolia (Konya, Aksehir, Karaman, Eregli, Aksaray, Kirsehir): Constructive mudbrick; flat soil roof; with courtyard. Kayseri (Nigde, Erzurum): Dressed cut stone with wooden bracing, flat earthen roof; with eyvans and inner and outer sofas. East of Kayseri, Van: Constructive mudbrick; flat earthen roof.
Southeastern Anatolia (Mardin, Diyarbakir, Urfa, Gaziantep, Antakya): Cut stone; with courtyard and eyvans.
Eastern Anatolia (Erzurum-Van): Constructive stone with wood binding; flat roof; closed sofa.
Among these several types of houses the majority is within the context of the traditional Turkish House. But those on the Eagean coast and islands, at Bodrum or up on the Taurus plateaus, partly in Central Anatolia, Kayseri, Eastern Anatolia and Souheastern Anatolia, usually have local characteristics and are as much under local influence as they are under external influence, as far as construction techniques and plan types are concerned except for administrative buildings and some houses inspired by these, which reflect the characteristics of the Turkish House. Nevertheless, in these regions, in spite of the differences in detail of the timber frame construction techniques and the stone work of the ground floor wall, the main materials of infill and cladding, roof and eaves, projections and their supports, window shutters and balustrades, fireplaces and chimneys, ceilings and other details, when conceived as a whole, the character of the Turkish house immediately presents itself.