ankara’s adjustments: mixing construction systems

Ankara’s new city of 1928 had to be planned around its existing settlement, located at the top of a hill in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains. Much of the old city sat inside the walls of an even older fort.

The basic concept of the Ankara plan was to create a new boulevard that started at the edge of this old city and ran south, to a new administrative center in the plain.

The new center brought new ideas, new methods of construction, new ways of living. Concrete frame systems, now ubiquitous, established a modern means of construction and a new, bigger scale of building.

Despite these efforts in recreating the urban landscape of Ankara by isolating the old, the original arrangements of Ankara have crept out into the plains, albeit in small, but critical ways.

Inside the fort wall, buildings remain the same, and renovations are only historic. Outside, as the hill slopes down, the old and the new begin to mix. This photo is taken near the edge of Ulus, the old district, where a pedestrian market opens into the ring road around the core city.

But the edge can also be extreme. Here, along Ataturk Bulvari, the main axis of Ankara, pre-1940s building is decisively cut by a large boulevard and an open park that follow the southwest edge of the hill and buffer it from the main railway.

The old houses were built of wood…their basic structure was a stone foundation, with wood frame sections above, cantilevered slightly at each increasing level. The walls were filled with brick. On top of this, a beam or truss system, depending on the span, supported a ceramic tile roof.

In new concrete areas, buildings were designed with flat roofs. However, because of rain and snow, many of these roofs were replaced with traditional roofs, which leaked less. Now, the traditional roofs are integrated into the construction process from the start.

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