Wooden Houses of Anatolia
Traditional Göynük Houses and Conservation Issues
A small district within the Bolu Province, Göynük is a town of valleys that
has largely maintained its traditional fabric characteristics. The centrum of
Göynük, which has almost completely been ranked as a “historical site”, is
situated in a mountainous area, on the slopes and feet of two valleys bifurcated
toward the north and northeast. The Beybahçesi-Gobaylar-Brook flows by the
middle of the eastern valley, while the Göynük Brook does in the western, and
both do merge at the town centre to heave under their new name “Göynük Suyu”
(the Göynük Stream). Between the valleys bearing the names of the brooks
respectively, there is the Hisar Hill which nearly divides the town in two.
A station of supply and accommodation during the Ottoman Era, and located on
the Baghdad Route, Göynük entered the Turkish reign as from the end of the 13th
GENERAL PLACEMENT CHARECTERISTICS OF THE TRADITIONAL GÖYNÜK HOUSE
The traditional houses constituting the quarters which have spontaneously
developed around a mosque for the absence of any ethnic differences, form two
distinct categories by architecture and period they were built in:
a- Traditional houses built in the 19th Century, and by the beginning of the
b- Houses with the traditional structure and plan scheme, although they were
built between the years 1030-1970.
The position and architectural characters of a Göynük house within the plot
are determined above all by the topography, landscape, and climate. The fact
that the slope of the land from the skirts toward the brooks are town-wide in
line with the landscape allowed the houses to be both parellel to the slope, and
facing the landscape. The average land slope which varies between 5 to 10% on
the valley floors, banks of brooks, and the plains where the valleys merge into
each other, is around 25-30% on the sides of the valleys,
The traditional houses were usually built in split order. One, two or three
faces of the houses built in split order are placed on the placed on the kplot’s
border so that they determine the street formation line, along with their garden
walls, there are also examples where the building is wholly enclosed by the
garden Further to the split order, there are also occasional houses build in
attached or quasi-attached order.
The traditional fabric consists of two-storey, two-storey-plus-mezzanine,
two-storey-plus-subbasement, and two-storey-plus-attic houses, Also, the number
of three-storey houses in not a few, in residences on the slopes, the
differences between the level of the residence’s front garden, and the one of
the street or slope on the highest point of the plot is so big that it sometimes
giverise to one, one and a half, or even two storeys. Due to such multi-choice
and somewhat complex development which is a result of the topography, it would
be more proper that the storeys are called, sequentially the “main living
floor”, and the “garden floor” in the two storey ones.
The garden floors of Göynük houses which were designed in the past to
accommadate large, patriarchal families are completely assigned for services and
productional activities. The main entrance gate of the house is on this floor.
All or some of the spaces such as hayat, stable, hay storage, woodshed, granary,
cellar, and sometimes oven house-fırın evi-may also be situated on this floor,
or as well as in the garden. The external contours of such spaces are often in
conformity with the ones of the upper floors, if the buildings don’t rest on the
land stepwise. Having no definite plan scheme, such floors consist of carrying
walls and wooden posts that are designed to allow the layout of the upper next
floor. The garden-floor plans of the traditional-sort houses built between 1930
and 1970 were however designed to be in a similar layout as the upper floors,
and the stable and hay storage spaces replaced by bathroom and kitchen spaces.
In some houses, a low mezzanine floor was placed on a part of the garden
floor. Generally consisting of one or two rooms, this floor may sometimes
contain spaces such as the granary, kitchen or cellar.
If on the level of the street or avenue, the middle floor is used as the
entry floor. The hayat into which the entrance gate is opened out, hall-çardak-,
rooms and sometimes the kitchen are situated in the middle floor. The daily life
used to be spent in this floor in the past, while the “main living floor” was
allotted to the married children.
If there is no middle floor, the “main living floor” is the one where the
daily life happens, and the quests are entertained. The hall-çardak-, summer and
winter rooms, stairs, toilet spaces, and sometimes the kitchen, and the cellar
are sometimes oriented toward the landscape, street, and garden, under a
The middle floor and the “main living floor” plans giving the plan
characteristics of the houses have a similar layout. In general, layouts
involving inner halls were applied. Layouts containing central halls and corner
halls although rarely, also encountered, the hall, or the regionally so-called
çardak, was designed as a space close to the external effects in all houses.
Narrow side of the hall was seated centrally to the side of the house having the
view of the landscape, and the rooms and other spaces places on the longer sides
or corners of the hall. The rooms have different names according to their
location an uses within the house. According to location, the rooms over looking
the landscape are called the front rooms, the ones to the valley the back rooms;
and winter rooms. The summer room-yazlık oda, or again as called regionally the
yazevi-summerhouse-is the room opening out to the landscape, garden, or street,
usually with its two sides. More attention and care was spent in the making of
its ceiling, closets, and cupboards, and the quests of the house are entertained
in this room. In other words the name of the “main room” is the summer room in
the Göynük House. Whereas the winter room is situated at more protected site of
the house, and is absolutely provided with a fireplace. The winter room which
can be situated on any one of the storeys of the house but the garden floor, is
also used as the kitchen if the house has no space assigned as the kitchen.
The front façades looking to the landscape are the façades on which the
greatest pains were taken. Heavy-looking due to various reasons, the back and
side façades gain importance merely if there is an avenue or a street
posteriorly or laterally to the plot they are in, in which case for the purposes
of providing communication of the building with the street.
The floor dominating the façade of a traditional house is the “main living
floor” opening out through windows and overhangs. The middle floor or mezzanine
floor, if any, too contributes to the formation of the façades. On the levels of
the “main living floor” and the middle floor, the halls which are located in the
middle axis of the façade are marked by their window forms or numbers in some
cases, or by their balconies or bay windows in others, which markedness is
enhanced by the cantilevered or regular rooms situated at both sides of the
hall. The overhangs which usually run in parallel to the building’s surface are
located on all the façade along the building, or room-wide in the corners, or
hall-wide in the middle of the façade. Some of the overhangs before halls were
arranged as balconies. The overhangs were designed as unsupported,
console-braced, or bracketed ones. Rectangular sliding windows were used in
general. The room windows were usually rectangular, and the hall windows arched.
On the front façades of the garden floors consisting of the garden floors
consisting of massive stone walls, on the other hand, doors providing access
into the house and the stable, as well as the so-called temek deliğis, glassless
stable windows or a couple small windows are located. On the “main living
floors”, middle floors or mezzanine storeys, the façades are separated
vertically by means of the corner borders and intermediate borders placed to the
points where the room and hall walls reflect to the façade, and horizontally by
means of wooden cornices between flats on the floor levels of such storeys.
Except the façades which are plastered first with mud, them lime mortar
beginning from the ground, there are also cases where the stone body walls or
the timber in –filled frame system is not plastered, or coated with wooden
materials. The façades are completed by the Ottoman-style tiled curb roofs or
gable roofs, and the Ottoman-style tile-cowled chimney stick.
CONSTRUCTION SYSTEM CHARACTERISTIC ANDN MATERIAL USAGE
The houses on a rocky land have unhewn stone foundations which are not too
deep. The carrying walls on the garden floors, and one of two of such walls
rising to he eave level, as well as the garden and retaing walls are rubble
masonry. In the construction of such walls the lightweight, porous, and light-to
process stones called köfke were used, which stones were brought from the caves
on the Buzluk Hill situated northeast to the town. There are also some instances
where stones obtained from the rocky areas and brook banks around were used.
Lime mortar was used as the binder in the 60 to 90 cm-thick stone walls and the
strength of such walls was reinforced by means of wooden beams applied in 80 to
90 cm intervals. Placed along the walls onto the inner and outer surfaces
thereof, such beams of 10/10 or 12/12 cm sections were made of oak or pine
All the walls of the “main living floor”, the mezzanine storey, and the
middle floor were built in the system of timber frames, except for the main
walls with the fireplaces. For the timber frame system, the sleeper on which the
timber framework placed on the main stone walls would be seated was prepared
above all on the level where the garden floor terminated. The floor joists of
the “main living floor” which were placed in 40 to 50 cm intervals in parallel
to the shorter side of the house were seated of thicker-sectioned main joists
running parallel to both such beams and to themselves. Having sections of 20/20
or 22/22 cm in average, and being seated onto the wooden posts or stone walls on
the garden floor, these main joists are called hepçeken in the region. A second
sleeper placed on top of the heads of the 16/16 or 18/18 cm sectioned floor
joists were placed the main and intermediate studs. The main study were made in
sections of 10/10, 12/12 or 14/14 cm. having been tied to each other by means of
braces at the bottom and top levels of the windows, and supported with brockets
at places, the main studs are surrounded by the upper sleepers at the ceiling
level. The ceiling joists and roof rafters are seated onto such upper sleepers.
It is seen that, in old historical houses, the timber-framed outer walls are 15
cm thick, while the inner ones about 10 to 12 cm. the thickness of the
timber-framed walls in the houses built during the later period varies between
16 and 19 cm. In such walls the spaces between the wooden studs were filled with
stones in some cases, or with mud bricks, or circular-sectioned wooden filling
which provides the best binding with the wooden structure was preferred more due
to its less cost. All the wooden material used in both the frame and the
fillings is pine. Especially the sleepers, joists, and studs were made of
Beneath the lime mortar plaster of the stone walls and the timber-framed
ones, another plaster is found which was made of mud mortar containing strow. In
the newer houses, it is seen that laths were nailed on the wooden-filled walls
in skewed position, and the mud and lime-mortared plasters were applied on such
Simple overhangs and bracketed or console-braced overhangs were applied in
the Göynük houses. The simple overhang is a type of overhang obtained by
extending the floor joists out of the house. The overhang depth can only be 40
to 50 cm. For the bracketed and console-braced ones, on the other hand, the
depth is more, and the section of the protruding floor joists is less. The
spaces under the overhang are not enclosed in the Göynük houses.
Although the “historical –centrum” of Göynük was adversely influenced by the
master plan partially applied in 1951, and the traditional fabric survived that
destruction was not corrupted much until the 80’s. The facts that the
transportation to the towna is difficult, the new houses are built of wooden
materials, and employing the traditional system, and the commitment of the
inhabitants of Göynük to the concept of “preservation” have al led to the
maintenance of the traditional fabric. However, as the town which had been
classified as a “forest village” for long years was declassified, no low-cost
timber could be obtained, and reinforced-concrete residences have begun to be
built instead of the traditional. Besides, the variations in the social and
economic structure, earthquakes, fires, floods, renewed master plans and
prevention decrees, lack of supervision of the reparations performed, increase
in the unlicensed constructions, the local governments’ non-observance of the
“preservation-based master plan” in force, and the lack of any technical
personnel in the town involving “preservation” are reasons that accelerate the
destruction of the town.
In order that the traditional fabric of the town can be preserverved, above
all, the characteristic streets of the town which are of a scale for pedestrian
traffic must be managed to get rid of the vehicles, and the unlicensed
construction of buildings on the shope apaxes be prevented.
Despite the application of the universal preservation methods to protect the
cultural heritage in our country, the old buildings lose their historical
evidences during the restoration applications, and do often almost change their
identity. Such applications are true with Göynük too. Having particularly
accelerated following the “preservation-based master plan” dated 1991, the
reparation work of older buildings have led to the destruction of major
characteristic houses. Therefore, the main aspects to be observed in any
reparations are listed below.
- The Municipality must provide that no reparation be ever performed on
buildings requiring maintenance.
- The reparations must only be performed upon approval of the Ankara
committee of Cultural and Natural Properties.
- As the survey, restitution, and restoration projects of registered
buildings require special expertise, they must be prepared by restoration
architects only. And it must be those who prepared the project who are the
actual authorised and responsible people of the work during the application
phase. If no restoration architect is available or the needed funds cannot be
obtained, then the help must be sought from the universities.
- The Preservation Committees must be provided with sufficient number of
technical staff, and supervise the “repair” applications, and the people who
intend to repair their houses must be guided about the formalities required and
- Authentic materials must be used as far as possible in buildings requiring
“reparation”, or, if the authentic materials are too old that to be used, or not
available, then the missing parts must be completed using the same sort of
materials, must be indicated that they are new additions.
- If he building offers the risk of collapsing, then measures must be taken
to reinforce the structure, without demolishing the building, and reinforced
concrete and steel constructions be used if need be, provided that they are
invisible on the external façade.
- Pains must be taken to any details that seem unimportant particularly in
reparation of the external façades. Details such as the location and width of
the flat and window cornices on the façade, the starting and ending points, and
widths of the corner and intermediate borders, quality of the ground floor stone
wall system, ect. Must be made as their original.
- Nothing must be used but the lime mortar during the reparation, and the
mortars prepared with cement must absolutely be avoided.
Dr. Ayten ERDEM
YTÜ, Faculty of Architecture, Dr.