Tired Wooden Construction Culture in Safranbolu

Wooden Houses of Anatolia

Tired Wooden Construction Culture in Safranbolu

Having been in a wooded region throughout the history (even today 50% of the total settlement area is woodland) enabled Safranbolu and its surrounding villages to make the most use of wood. Almost everything from the spoon used for eating to the churn used for making butter or buttermilk, kneading trough used for making a paste, wood used for rolling out thin wafer, bat used for washing linen, groove used for rolling out thin wafer, bat used for washing linen, groove used for pureeing “tepme gödel”, sack clothe sieve, basket, plough, provisions stores, and cradles are a part of the wooden culture in Safranbolu. Even carriages and their wheels, by means of which transportation was provided were wood in the same way with most of the traditional Anatolian settlement areas.

Wood was the main element of Safranbolu settlement frame. The main carrier system of traditional Safranbolu houses was originating from the filling up of mainly brick and rarely small stones to the gap in the wooden band and over the stone ground. In some of the houses (stores etc.), the construction was built of wood from the base.

Water troughs, water channels in the mills, garden wall cavering-heads, roof covering-thin, boards pool houses, Safranbolu urban frame reflects the wood’s own warm-bloodedness by means of ablution places, ablution stalls and soap-stands in the inner side of the house and the bathroom cabinets, cabinets, ceiling coverings, sofas, carvings, niches, windows, doors, stairs, helplesses, ties, and verands in the rooms.

Even in the other materials out of wood had been used as a helping material. As an example, in even 60 cm. high between the stone walls wooden niches functioning as the joists were used and with the same purpose between adobe walls barks, called “sar” were used.

It was observed that in the construction carrier system; fir and yellow pines, ceiling coverings, in the doors; walnut-chestnut, in the floor and thin boards; Scotch fir, in the cabinet doors openworks, paddle-boxes, and lavatory floors; yellow pines were used.

Reha Güney authenticated almost all of the Wooden Construction Culture in Safranbolu in his book “Safranbolu Houses” printed in 1987. By being included in the list of World Heritage List, these volues were inscribed in the international environment.

In our trip today, you had the chance to observe these values in the selected historical houses. What I want to present here is tired Safranbolu and the problems of the tired-sick wooden construction elements thought to be in parallel with Safranbolu. Unfortunately, some parts of the Wooden Construction Culture Values, which we watch with nostalgia in Suha Arın’s old film “Time in Safranbolu”, were beaten to the time.

Even though restoration works got fastener from that time till now, it is not possible to say that wooden construction culture has totally been preserved.

As a restoration expert, I have to confess that because of the reasons that are not in my power, I also had to commit the same sins. Based on what we came across in our works as Restoration Department of Vocational High School, I want to present some wooden deterioration samples together with their reasons.

In the history of Safranbolu, a family used to buy his/her descendant’s wood used for the house before making him/her married. They used to preserve it as much as possible and also take the most care of the element while cutting it. Therefore, today in Safranbolu, in the houses in which life is still going on and which are well-kept up, not allowed to get damp, well-aired, there is almost no possibility of becoming infected with insects, maggoty or mouldy.

On the other hand, in the houses in which life does no more go on, which leak from the roof, are not well-aired and kept up, the following problems can often be seen;

In the inner parts of the houses; lavatories which are called ablution places, in the rooms; “yunmalıklar” were made of wood. The going out ways of these constructions’ being stopped up or having leakage problem cause damp and other damages in the other parts of the construction. Especially, this can even cause the brick and stone parts of the ammoniac constructions to get decayed, and this results in decline and collapse.

In the woods that are close to the carrier system, in the chimneys, when the fire is made, firstly, the outer parts of the wood get heated, later, when the heat reaches to the essence of the wood, the wood is inflamed and the blaze splashes upon the cabinets which are close to the fireplace, ceiling coverings and the roof.

Chimneys and fireplaces are, at the same time, the most important two characteristics which carry both rain and damp to the same place. The other problems relevant to the structure are the structure’s getting worse because of making excessive loading by using the constructions out of their main services. (The residences being used as a corn or cement store can be stated as a good example of this statement).

- The wooden carrier system’s getting worse as a result of brick’s, used as filling matter, swelling, becoming heavier or disaggregated, and of the water coming down from the roof, chimney or eaves.

- The wooden band’s being exposed to water and other air conditions as a result of construction plaster’s and stuffing mortar’s pouring out of the construction.

- Because of insulation deficiency in the roofs.

- Because of the insulation deficiency (in traditional Safranbolu houses, it was observed that there was no roof insulation and was a need for the old style tiles to be turned over), there occurred leaking, water leakage and insufficient air-conditioning, as a result of this, the carrier system’s, floor’s, and ceiling covering’s, cabinets’ and other wooden decoration elements’, especially the upstairs’ getting decayed are among the most common deterioration types.

As our rector stated, wood’s being painted with oil paint prevents it from having a well-air-conditioning, but not from becoming maggoty. In the walls, instead of lime whitewash, being able to breathe, brick plaster, towy, and these sorts of materials’, which consist of cement and are unable to breathe, being used cause the carrier systems to be internally deteriorated.

In the restorations, instead of conservation and consolidation techniques, renovation techniques are being preferred and while putting this into practice, previous combination techniques, decoration elements and details are not taken so much into consideration. This is because enough attention is not paid to the time that the wooden culture deserves, technicians, materials, and technical usages are not so much widespread as required. Moreover, carpenters and builders that are peculiar to traditional wooden construction culture are unfortunately below the required level.

In the same way with every part of Turkey, there is no laboratory which is directed to wooden conservation and of which technicians, owners of the buildings and builders make use of. As our architects are not so much qualified in this topic, unfortunately, restoration projects do not contain required interference forms and techniques.

In the restorations carried out here in Safranbolu, in the last years experts tried to preserve the old and new wood by means of “emprenye” method, but only those who are the members of upper-class in terms of financial power can afford the cost of this kind of restoration.

“Pinotex”, which is a commercial product and whose protecting characteristic is open to discussion is preferred because of its price.

The use of materials such as petrol oil, which is traditionally used, is not so much common.

In our region, there are very few masters knowledgeable about the wooden construction culture. They have trained very few people (most of them are their relatives). In our region, although there is a Restoration Department at Vocational High School, it can not make the most use of the masters as the laws related to this issue are not so much flexible.

In our region, there is no civilian community organization about the protection of Wooden Construction Structure. Maybe, these experienced masters will have an important role in the education of the younger generation. In the same way with the Protection Law no. 2863, there is no specific item related to the protection of Wooden Construction Culture in the Zoning Plan with the aim of Protection prepared for Safranbolu. Our Ministry of Culture does not have a fund to enable financial support for the protection of Wooden Consruction Culture.

The existing Protecting The Historical Monuments Fund is not sufficient. Considering the general view, Safranbolu might be taught to be an open air museum, but we can not call it a museum which has been preserved with a conscious interference.

This is because, especially in terms of wooden construction culture, there are many values whose alarm signals are already ringing. We could easily call it an open air museum, but enough attention has not been paid to the wooded construction and work has not been carried out.

A Wooden Construction Culture Protecting and Developing Centre should be established with the Coordination of University, UNESCO, ICCROM, Ministry of Culture, Restoration and Traditional Handicrafts Departments of Safranbolu Vocational High School, under the structure of Z.K.Ü., and it should have an international quality. Their education durations should be 4 years. Safranbolu should hold international courses related to this issue.

Ministry of Culture’s restoring and insulating all of the roofs will make the owners of the houses more excited and will encourage them to preserve the other parts of the houses.

Yrd. Doç. Dr. Aysun ÖZKÖSE
Asst. Prof. Dr. Z.K.Ü. Safranbolu Vocational School