Urla Olive Grove Houses
URLA OLIVE GROVE HOMES, a private housing development, is situated on the Karaburun Peninsula, which stretches westward from the Turkish metropolis of Izmir (ancient Smyrna) on the Aegean Sea; according to Herodotus, “a region which enjoys a better climate than any we know.` The development comprises eighteen individual residences on the sides of a shallow valley facing northward, overlooking the Bay of Izmir, fringed by a national forest of pines. The city is 30 kilometers away. Huseyin Egeli, the creator and designer, has lived in the Aegean region all his life, and is rooted in the land from which this development has emerged. The Egeli team is a small cooperative venture of architects, engineers, builders, gardeners, artisans and laborers under the direction of one of Turkey’s most creative young men. The topography dictates the building: the natural slope, the existing trees, the ancient terraces, walls and watercourses are incorporated into and inform the construction. The local stone used for basic construction has been quarried from the site itself, cut in rectangular blocks and joined with invisible mortar. This has been combined with brick, naturally finished wood, glass and masonry finished in earth tones, so that the houses seem to have grown naturally from the earth and are a part of, rather than an addition to, the pre-existing environment. The native stone, the olive and pine trees, the wind, the sun and the sea all contribute to the total ambiance, and are the basis for the muted natural color scheme. Each roof is of terra cotta tiles in the varied hues of the clay. The shape and height of the houses conform to the V-shape of the valley, none rising above the skyline. The eighteen homes range in size from 200 m2 to 400 m2, and are spaced along the terraced sides of a shallow valley, with a common swimming pool*, garden and social facility at the lower, entry level to the compound. Flagstone driveways, enhanced with railroad ties, lead to parking at the upper (entry) level of each dwelling. Each house comprises an upper entrance floor with a common living area and kitchen, fireplace and a view of the sea, and a lower floor, set into the hillside, with bedrooms opening on to private garden areas. Exterior, wooden terraces and balconies enhance the silhouette of each house; a few of the larger homes have open lofts above the living area. Building materials are chosen to avoid a massive effect, and each house is unique in orientation and in design. The socialization of the houses is important: none of the windows invades the privacy of the next-door residence, so you can “look at the sea instead of your neighbors`. Where necessary, additional trees have been planted to enhance the separation. Although the Urla Olive Grove Homes are built from traditional materials that have been used for centuries in the Aegean region of Turkey, the designs and floor plans (sleeping spaces below an upper story for communal living) are not. Living spaces are almost never simple rectangles, rather taking into account the natural topography as well as the sun, the wind and the view. Each building snuggles into the hillside, taking advantage of the energy-saving insulating properties of the earth itself. The buildings conform to the most rigid standards, and meet or exceed all current codes for residential construction in earthquake zones. The landscaping was, obviously, a part of the total design from the very outset: no existing olive or fig trees were cut. Less obvious is the careful placement of the swimming pool and its mechanical support building, the conservation and re-use of the rich topsoil that was excavated and then spread throughout the garden areas, and the incorporation of trees, terraces and walls that had stood on the site since time immemorial. Generous use of recycled material, including reclaimed railroad ties, telephone poles, pottery and mosaic pieces, enhances the overall sense of oneness with the land as it always has been. * there are three houses with individual pools as well.

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    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com