Once upon a time

House on the Outskirts of Istanbul

The Turkish families who migrated to Istanbul from Anatolia after the conquest in 1453 could not get used to the massive, cold stone houses of the Byzantines. Moreover, the great earthquake of 1509 made them afraid of being trapped under the rubble. They began to construct light, timber houses, which did not suffer from damp, were easily heated in winter, and were well lit by plenty of windows.

The diverse mixture of ethnic communities and social classes in the new Turkish capital influenced timber architecture, which catered for a wide range of needs from imposing palaces and mansions to simple houses in poor districts. The exterior fa|cades exhibited a wealth of designs, each unique. One and two room cottages with byres on the ground floor stood next grand houses belonging to pashas with thirty or forty rooms and two or more floors. But they were all made of the same material : wood

One main feature distunguishing the houses of middle class from poorer neighbourhoods was the fact the latter met the needs of the productive family.