Prefabs, Chalets, and Home Making in 19th-Century Istanbul

Episode 298

Download the podcast
Feed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud

A handful of obscure archival fragments from Sultan Abdülhamid II’s imperial library in Yıldız have revealed a curious architectural practice that took place in the urban gardens of members and officials of the Ottoman court: they had a penchant for imported chalets. In this episode, Deniz Türker discusses her research on how this relatively niche fad for importation quickly shifted to widespread local prefabrication in the last decades of the nineteenth century. With the entrepreneurial oversight of production facilities in Istanbul, a larger swath of the capital’s population began to find ways to express their domestic tastes in an extremely competitive spirit on Istanbul’s expanding suburbs. In tracing these practices through state archives, newspapers, novel, and photographs, Türker also proposes some preliminary answers to the scarcity of original architectural drawings in the Ottoman archives.

This episode is part of a series entitled "The Visual Past."

Stream via SoundCloud 

Contributor Bios

Deniz Türker is the Fari Sayeed Fellow in Islamic Art at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge. She has received her PhD in History of Art and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, where she completed a dissertation on Yıldız, the Ottoman Empire’s last palace. Her current research follows two separate threads, one is to understand the patronage and public role of the Queen Mothers of the Tanzimat, and the other is to trace the life and work of two prolific imperial photographers, Kevork Abdullah, and Bahaeddin Bediz.
Taylan Güngör is a doctoral candidate at SOAS in London. His interests are in Medieval and Pre-Modern Eastern Mediterranean trading circles and his research is on trade in Istanbul after 1453.

Recommended Episodes
Ahmet Ersoy #280
Architecture and Late Ottoman Historical Imagination
Burkay Pasin #145
Bathing in the Bosphorus
Burcu Kurt #171
Osmanlı'da buz üretimi


Episode No. 298
Release Date: 12 February 2017
Recording Location: SOAS, London
Recorded at SOAS Radio studios. SOAS Radio is an outlet for creative media and talent housed by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Run by alumni, current students and staff at the School, including volunteers from like-minded communities, SOAS Radio is dedicated to varied and original programming on world music, culture and current affairs.
Audio editing by Taylan Güngör
Music: Muzaffer Akgun - Ha Bu Diyar
Images and bibliography courtesy of Deniz Türker


“The general plan of the railways that are conceptualized for the garden of the imperial palace of Yıldız” (Yıldız sarāy­ı hümayūnu baǧçesinde inşāsı mutaṣavvir olan demiryollarınıñ ḫarīta­ı umūmīyesidir), Istanbul University Library, Rare Works Collection, 93283.
Enameled pen box depicting the Mabeyn Kiosk and the gate of sovereignty (saltanat kapısı), artist and date unknown, Yıldız Palace Museum Collection.
(from left to right) The pedimented residence of the valide, the erstwhile Small Mabeyn, and the first, prefabricated version of Abdülhamid’s private residence, photographer unknown, Istanbul University Library, Rare Works Collection, 90407.
 “Châlet no. 222,” Kaeffer & Cie.’s catalogue, Châlets Suisses Bois Découpés, 1884, Istanbul University, Rare Works Collection, 92007.
The actual prefabricated kiosk in Hereke assembled for the visit of the German emperor and empress, Le Monde illustré (1898).
“No: 35,” Strömmen Trævarefabrik’s prefabricated home catalogue, Dolmabahçe Palace Museum, Abdülmecid Efendi Library, Istanbul.
Swedish Pavilion (no longer extant) inside the inner garden of Yıldız, M. Thams, after 1889.

Select Bibliography

Acar, Damla and Deniz Mazlum. “Timber Framed Houses Built for the Court Members After the
1894 Earthquake in Istanbul: Rationalization of Construction Techniques,” in International Journal of Architectural Heritage (June 2015): 604-619.

Ahmet Mithat Efendi, Avrupa’da Bir Cevelan. Istanbul: Dergâh Yayınları, 2015.

Bachmann, Martin and Baha Tanman, eds. Wooden Istanbul, Examples from Housing Architecture.
Istanbul: Istanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 2008.

Barillari, Diana, and Ezio Godoli. Istanbul 1900: Art-Nouveau Architecture and Interiors. New
York: Rizzoli, 1996.

Booth, William. “The Most Surprising Thing at Yanukovych’s Estate? He Has Relatively Good
Taste.” Washington Post, February 25, 2014.

Dana, William Sumner Barton. The Swiss Chalet Book, A minute analysis and reproduction of the chalets of
Switzerland, obtained by a special visit to that country, its architects, and its chalet homes. New York: The William T. Comstock Co., 1913.

Demirel, Fatmagül. Dolmabahçe ve Yıldız Saraylarında Son Ziyaretler, Son Ziyafetler. Istanbul:
Doğan Kitap, 2007.

Frank, Alison F. “The Air Cure Town: Commodifying Mountain Air in Alpine Central Europe.”
Central European History 45, no. 2 (2012): 185–207.

Girardelli, Paolo. “Power or Leisure? Remarks on the Architecture of the European Summer
Embassies on the Bosphorus Shore.” New Perspectives on Turkey, no. 50 (2014): 29–58.

Gran, Gunnar. “A Magnate and His Manor.” The Norseman, no. 1 (2003): 58–63.

İnci, Handan. Roman ve Mekân: Türk Romanında Ev. Istanbul: Arma Yayınları, 2003.

Kennedy, Dane. The Magic Mountains: Hill Stations and the British Raj. Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1996.

Meḥmed İzzet, Rehber-i Umūr-ı Beytiyye: Eve müteʿalliḳ bilcümle umūruñ rehberidir, vol. 1.
Dersaʿādet: Ferīdiye Maṭbaʿāsı, 1319 [1901].

———. Rehber-i Umūr-ı Beytiyye: Eve müteʿalliḳ bilcümle umūruñ rehberidir, vol. 2. Dersaʿādet: Ḫānımlara Maḫṣūṣ Gazete Maṭbaʿāsı, 1325 [1907].

———. Rehber-i Umūr-ı Beytiyye: Eve müteʿalliḳ bilcümle umūruñ rehberidir, vol. 3.
Dersaʿādet: Maḥmūd Bey Maṭbaʿāsı, 1327 [1909].

Osmanoğlu, Ayşe. Babam Abdülhamid. Istanbul: Güven Yayınevi, 1960.

Örikağasızade Hasan Sırrı. Sultan Abdülhamit Devri Hatıraları ve Saray İdaresi. Istanbul:
Dergâh Yayınları, 2007.

Reiersen, Elsa. “Scandinavians in Colonial Trading Companies and Capital-Intensive Networks: The
Case of Christian Thams,” in Navigating Colonial Orders: Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania, ed. Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (New York: Oxford, 2015), 267-290.

Schweitzer, Robert and Michael W. R. Davis, America’s Favorite Homes: Mail-order Catalogues as a Guide
to Popular Early 20th-Century Houses. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.

Toğral, Tahsin. “Osmanlı’da Japon Kültürü,”in Milli Saraylar Dergisi 6 (2010): 169-176.

Tokgöz, Ahmet İhsan. Matbuat Hatıralarım. Edited by Alpay Kabacalı. Istanbul: İletişim
Yayınları, 1993.


ماثيو said…
This episode was amazing! I was listening while washing dishes in rapt attention. The translation of rustic to rusta-i? that the shah met the sultan in a art nouveau box?! you're killing me !!

Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.