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Green Building Turkey
 
Rising of sustainable architecture in Turkey is on everyone’s lips now. The world turned towards the country of two continents, already planning the greatest green building future there. But more and more voices in Turkey say – to build this future, they should watch at the past.
 
 
Sustainable architecture is not new fashion trend. Several hundred years ago in Emperor’s capital Istanbul, and till now on – in small South villages living without time – architecture was green. Turkish architects were living in peace with land and water much more than they do now.  To find the most beautiful examples you don’t have to leave former hub of the world – Golden Horn in Bosporus. The most historical part of Istanbul, former home of Sultans, this place is offers you excursion to wise past.
 

Beginning with Topkapi Palace, huge territory with palaces, harem, libraries, courtyards, the main tourist attraction today and the site of UNESCO World Heritage. Covered with trees giving everlasting shadow, beautiful palaces of Topkapi gives you cool and serene feeling. Big windows orientated to get more sunshine but not heat. They also create flow of fresh air.  Water system takes care of water used in the kitchen and in fountains. Spacious yards and court-yards teach how to manage the space.
 
Sultan Mehmed II chose old Byzantine acropolis for a New Palace. His biographies say that: “he took care to summon the very best workmen from everywhere - masons and stonecutters and carpenters. For he was constructing great edifices which were to be worth seeing and should in every respect vie with the greatest and best of the past. For this reason he needed to give them the most careful oversight as to workmen and materials of many kinds and the best quality”.

That was the reason why, coming to Istanbul for the first time, developers of Atasehir Project, the biggest and the greenest construction in Istanbul now, they first were led to Topkapi palace. To see Future in the most beautiful example of the past.

Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque stay right in front of each other and seem competing in grace and mastery.  They are like two oases in summer heat. When you come inside you meet never-changing temperature in 20 degree. Natural ventilation system and wide walls of stone gives cool fresh atmosphere so needed is these holy places.

Right under mosques there is Basilica Cisterns – roman genius invention for keeping water. Between columns in the high ceiling from the very beginning you can find holes, providing a natural conditioner. Going through soil these pipes deliver cooled air. Forgotten and lost for centuries, rediscovered Basilica Cisterns now give her lessons.

As Dr. Duygu Erten, the vice president of Green Building Council, says, - “I think that Turkish construction industry should really consider old Turkish architecture today and redesign and reinvent themselves”.
 

Leaving Istanbul and moving more and more to the South and South East. In old villages of the Aegean Sea – from Izmir to Antalya – you find low stone houses. Huge stones from near sites under roof have small round halls going over perimeter of the building. “Here comes the air, - explains owner of the house in the village Altinoluk, - it’s kind of this modern conditioner. Air comes, moving here, going out. Air inside is very important. Why are the holes under the roof? It’s healthier”.

Houses in old villages closer to Diyarbakir on South-West can proudly claim to be built completely of renewable resources of near sites. Main materials are wood, sand, cow manure and mud. Manure is mixed with certain mud and doesn’t afraid of rain (at least for one year). These low one-floor houses are called “breathing houses”.  Walls are breathing. They let the air inside and let it out and keep the air inside their porous structure. The walls are warm if you touch it and keep this warmth for the nights.
 
 

Green concept is old concept, - tells Engin Omer Denizci, environmental engineer in Istanbul. - We call it “new” because we lost and we keep on losing our green land”. Just always remembering about nature and trying damage it less that possible, we can recreate sustainable concept. And remembering the past is important step on this way.

 
(c) Archi-Europe 2010 / Anastatasia Laukkanen
 
 




 
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