Samsun, a city in the northern Black Sea region, will soon lose the strange artifacts of its architectural history: multi-story apartment buildings constructed, or rather placed, over existing one-floor houses.
Rize, another Black Sea city, is more renowned for the odd architectural choices of its residents due to geographical challenges in the mountainous region, such as a 165-step staircase cutting through eight floors to reach the entrance of a two-story house built on the edge of a cliff. Samsun has its fair share of strange architecture as well. In the Çarşamba district of the city, more than 50 apartment buildings tower over one-floor houses dating back to the 1960s. The reason is simple as locals were handed the now-decrepit houses after their houses were flooded due to construction of a new dam in the area in 1961. There were 240 houses in the area, but they were small and when their families expanded, residents decided to expand their houses as well. Reluctant to go elsewhere, they decided to build new houses over their old houses by simply constructing columns for new multi-story buildings to stand on.
Apartment buildings with two or four floors are being demolished one by one due to safety concerns after decades of living precariously. Out of 50 buildings, only a few remain intact, and they will soon be razed as locals finally decided to evacuate the premises and live elsewhere.
Hasan Aktaş, one of the locals who built a multi-story building on his existing house, reasons that they would have to pay rent if they left their one-floor houses during the construction of apartment buildings. "We came up with this way of construction independent of the house. We first built columns and went on constructing the building from there," he explained. His father decided to stay in the old house, while he and his brothers moved to the apartments. "I would have demolished it years ago, but my father said he wouldn't move with us, saying he can't climb the stairs because of his old age. Now that he is dead, we decided to demolish the building," he said.
Hikmet Aycan, 75, is among the locals who came up with the idea in the district where "every household has someone working in construction." He said the houses the state gave them were only 70 square meters and when they had children they became too small to live in.
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