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300 years old eco-friendly building

The historic city of Safranbolu in northern Turkey. This city in Karabuk province near the Black Sea takes its name from the precious herb saffron. Neat Safranbolu is dominated by hundreds of wooden buildings that will catch your eye in the city’s quaint lanes. The bright white stone facade, the red triangular border and the brown sashless windows look like a fairy tale. The age of these buildings is more than 300 years.

The environment and neighborhood knowledge of the residents of Safranbolu is commendable. They try to live in balance with the environment. Entering any of the buildings here in summer brings life to the cold air. At first, it seems that this air is coming from the air conditioner. Not really. The buildings here are designed to stay cool in summer and warm in winter without fans or AC.

Safranbolu was an important caravan stop along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the West. The city was known for its flourishing saffron trade. It became an important Ottoman city in the 18th century. Its cobbled streets are lined with mosques, hammams and traditional Turkish buildings called Konaklar (singular Konak).
Safranbolu now has more than 2,000 Ottoman-era kanaks. Most of it is inhabited by locals. Many buildings have been converted into boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes and museums. Because of these buildings built in the 18th century, UNESCO declared the whole city a World Heritage Site in 1994. These buildings are not only beautiful to look at, but are unique examples of sustainable architecture and socially responsible building design.

Chamlika Konagi is a hotel in Safranbolu. Its age is more than 300 years. Later it was converted into a hotel. The hallway walls of the building are made of plain stone. As soon as you enter it, the cool air hits you. A walk through the wide stone hallways shows how well ventilated the building is on a hot summer day. Hotel owner Özlem Ozen said each room at Safranbolu is designed to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.

Safranbolu has a unique topography and climate. Summers here are peaceful and clean and winters are cold and snowy. Local architect Fatih Dokmesi has restored more than 100 konaklars, including Chamlika Konagi, in Safranbolu over the past 20 years. “Our houses are made of local wood and stone, which provide excellent thermal insulation throughout the seasons without harming the environment,” he said.

AV House Museum in Kayakamla is a museum converted from an old Konak. With tall stone walls, abundant use of local wood and a spacious living room, the building was a perfect representation of Ottoman eco-design.
Gulsu Ulukavak Harputlugil, head of the architecture department at Kankaya University in the Turkish capital, Ankara, said the people of Safranbolu built their houses thinking about the people around them. No one is deprived of sunlight or wind for building. Building houses even on narrow roads in such a way that animals or vehicles can pass through them. They show respect for the environment and local communities. Source: BBC.

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