VOL: 5  NO: 1, 31-53, 2008-1


A critical look at the reuse options for a vernacular house in Alaçatı




Izmir Institute of Technology Faculty of Architecture Izmir TURKEY



Received: August 2007                          Final Acceptance: April 2008




This study focuses on vernacular houses in historic and touristic settlements. The aim is to define environmental and architectural factors that are to be considered in the development of reuse options for vernacular houses in such settlements. It is claimed that tourism should be accepted as a reality in the establishment of conservation – usage balance for the mentioned houses; however, the importance of keeping the local people in their historic environment is underlined. In addition to these environmental factors, architectural ones such as presentation of heritage values, rehabilitation of the building structure, determination of user preferences and development of strategies for the ownership problem should be taken into consideration. In this context, a series of methods are combined.

The literature on the usage problems especially in historic settlements attracted by tourists is reviewed, and criteria that guide the related architectural usages are defined. These are tested on a selected case study. Survey, historical research, comparative study and restitution results of the case study are presented. The role of tourism in the selected settlement, the presence of traditional qualities in the studied neighborhood, the types of heritage values and conservation problems, the preferences of the specific users in terms of architectural necessities, and the possible solutions for the ownership problem of the selected building are evaluated on the basis of preceding documentation. The evaluation results are used in the determination of usage options, building programs and related architectural designs. The design solutions are compared with one another in order to clarify the conclusive remarks.

The Sezgin House in Alaçatı, a historic settlement whose center is overwhelmed by tourism, is selected as the case study. The building is a 19th century house which originally belonged to a Greek family dealing with wine production. It is in a privileged location in the historic urban site of Alaçatı not only because it faces one of the few squares of the settlement, but also because it is located in a specific environment retaining the qualities that make it a neighborhood. The residential function continues in the building, but the vertical division made in order to attain two different living units is the major reason of a series of unqualified spatial alterations. Nevertheless, the structural condition of the building is relatively good. It has preserved the majority of its original architectural elements. The users are willing to continue their life in the building, although they have slightly different usage preferences. The options of reuse include insertion of a restaurant-cafe-bar incompatible with the mass tourism in the historic center, creation of a gathering space for tourists interested in the local culture of Alaçatı, establishment of a socio-cultural centre for the local women and children, continuity of the two living units at two different floor levels and regeneration of the living unit-wine production-commerce combination. The management of the ownership problem for each option is discussed.
In conclusion, the suitability of the socio-cultural centre for the neighborhood characteristics and the spatial qualities of the building is underlined. The creation of a gathering place for the tourists interested in Alaçatı culture is evaluated as a successful option because it balances the tourism potential with the conservation necessities of the neighborhood, and yet the design solution is compatible with the original spatial qualities. The living unit-wine production and commerce combination is also a positive option since it establishes a balance between tradition and tourism integrates the user preferences with the spatial qualities of the building and continues the present ownership status with minimal intervention. The preservation of heritage values, rehabilitation of the building structure, determination of user preferences and treatment of ownership problems specific to each case are prerequisite for the development of reuse strategies of vernacular houses in historic and touristic settlements. On the other hand, management of tourism and continuation of traditional life styles are environmental factors of the reuse design problem. Both architectural and environmental factors should be moulded together in order to develop case specific design solutions. In turn, reuse designs of vernacular houses in similar settlements can be guided.



Keywords: Reuse, vernacular residential architecture, tourism.


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