04 - 06 MAYIS 2017

The Kerkenes Eco Center and its Eco Tourism Potential
Françoise Summers, Soofia Tahira Elias-Ozkan, Matthieu Pedergnana, Maryam Farzin


The Kerkenes Eco-Center Project, initiated in 2002, was devoted to research into and promotion of renewable energy and sustainable village life. Activities included schemes to promote the use of renewable energy and appropriate technologies against a background of climate change, socio-economic inequality and a migration of the rural population towards the urban centers. Experimenting with appropriate building materials and energy efficient designs, drip irrigation for organic gardens, solar energy, solar drying and cooking, recycling, stimulating and creating income generating activities for both men and women, the Kerkenes Eco-Center promotes environmental design for a sutainable future. One of its objectives is to encourage village development and income generating activities that might halt and even reverse migration from the village to the city. Bringing the city to the village rather than the villagers to the city could play a significant role in reducing the negative impact that the human race has on our planet. Amongst income generating activities is the potential to attract visitors, local, national and international. The village of Sahmuratlı which hosts the Eco-Center is overlooked by an Iron Age mountain-top city built on the Kerkenes Dağ. Research, educational activities and arousing public awareness has been central to the annual program of activities but the challenge remains to make those economically viable. Ongoing programs of Handson Courses as well as the annual campaign of archaeological reasearch contribute to the publicity needed within the borders of Turkey and abroad to keep the place on some tourist maps but fails to attract sufficient attention to become self sufficient. The project would not have been initiated without generous support from sponsors and local authorities and so far continues to depend on grants to continue to exist. Although acclaimed for its pioneering role in both the archeological research and environmentally friendly approach to ways of living, it has not yet secured a sustainable existence. How then can this situation be overturned and the Kerkenes Eco-Center be given a long lease of life?

PLEA 2016

Refurbishing for Thermal Comfort: The rehabilitation of an abandoned village school building
by Maryam Farzin Moghaddam, Meysam Farhoudi, Soofia Tahira Elias Özkan, Francoise Summers


This paper presents details of a refurbishment project carried out on an abandoned school building, in a Turkish village, that was converted into a multipurpose facility for the Kerkenes Eco-Center, to hold workshops and university courses, and to house the participants. The refurbishment was aimed at maximizing thermal comfort conditions and reducing energy loads by using solar energy for water and space heating. To this end thermal insulation was added to the roof and to the part of the wall facing north; solar water heaters were installed; and a sunspace was built along the southern façade. This space was divided into three areas: solar drying of fruits and vegetables on one end; a greenhouse for growing vegetables on the other end; and a dining area in the middle. Funding for the refurbishment project was provided by the local government and the university students were involved in its construction. Temperature and humidity data were recorded before renovations, after refurbishment, and after adding the sunspace; while the building was also modelled to simulate its energy consumption. All collected data were analysed and the results show that the building has become thermally comfortable after refurbishment and its performance has increased further after adding the south facing sunspace.

European Strawbale Gathering - Paris 2015

Straw-Bale Buildings in Turkey
Matthieu Pedergnana


During the past 20 years, less than 20 straw-bale buildings have been built in different regions of Turkey despite a world-wide recognition of the quality of these buildings. Most of those buildings have been built for experimental or research purposes and a few by people leaving the cities to build another life. Most of the experiences were successful and the buildings appreciated by its owners but the low level of communication between the different actors prevent the knowledge on this technique to spread. Moreover, these first buildings have been built without a deep knowledge on natural material and energy efficiency, but just for the sake of using straw-bales. Since a few years, through ecological building workshops and different actions around ecological construction and life-style, a small informal network has been created and is looking forward to improve the quality of straw-bale and natural buildings. Not only the usage of straw and other fibers is aimed but also the development of more comfortable and resilient houses with designed based on local knowledge as well as modern techniques such as solar passive techniques. This presentation will introduce this informal movement and its aims through some previous examples of straw-bale and natural buildings in different regions of Turkey. The results of the different workshops and their actors will be presented as well as the last realizations of some of their participants. The focus will be made on two non-finished buildings that are representative of the problems and solutions existing in the non-existing Turkish straw-bale “network”.

PLEA 2015

THE KERKENES ECO‐CENTER: A showcase for appropriate housing and sustainable development in rural Turkey
by Soofia Tahira Elias-Özkan, Francoise Summers and Özün Taner.


A fast developing country, Turkey faces many challenges including an urgent need for sustainable economic development in rural and remote areas. Villagers in Central Anatolia, where climatic conditions are typified by very cold winters and hot, sunny and dry summers, are migrating to cities where they seek a more comfortable life style. Thus village economies have worsened and buildings have been abandoned. The Kerkenes Eco‐Center, located on the edge of Şahmuratlı Village in central Anatolia, was founded in 2002 as a response to this situation. By bringing together village residents, local and state officials, NGOs, students and academics, the Eco‐Center strives to advocate sustainable rural development and to act as a dynamic experimental base where buildings of traditional and alternative designs can be constructed and monitored. As a response to villagers’ needs for comfort, low‐cost construction, and low‐maintenance buildings “new” designs and techniques, such as strawbale walls, have been introduced while traditional practices such as flat roofs and sun‐drying techniques have been improved.
This paper presents the results of research and hands‐on activities which go a long way towards demonstrating the viability of alternative building techniques. Not only is the efficiency of the proposed solutions evaluated, but also the social impact and advantages brought to the village are examined. Buildings within the Kerkenes Eco‐Center are continuously monitored and results analyzed while simulations are used to generate the optimum models for energy efficient designs. New buildings and solutions are implemented according to the results obtained. Hence on‐going studies, including straw‐bale construction, passive solar heating and integrated rocket stoves, make it possible to propose solutions for a sustainable rural life and viable future.

Sürdürülebilir Kalkınma Modeli:
Kerkenes Eko-Merkez Projesi

Proje Yürütücüsü: Françoise Summers, Proje Danışmanı: Soofia T. Elias-Ozkan, Proje Koordinatörü: Berrin Çakmaklı, Güneş Enerjisi Uzmanı: Güner Mutaf


Kerkenes Projesi 1993 yılında Şahmuratlı Köyü’ndeki, Kerkenes Dağı’nda kurulmuş olan Demir Çağı başkentini araştırmak için başlatılmıştı. Bu uluslararası araştırma projesinin etkisinin sadece köy ve civarı üzerinde değil bölgeler arası düzeyde de kalkınma potansiyeli olduğu görülünce, 2002 yılında Avustralya Büyükelçiliğinin Doğrudan Yardım Programı’nın yardımı ile Kerkenes Eko-Merkez Projesi başlatıldı.
Bu proje sürdürülebilir bir gelecek sağlamak amacıyla, çevre dostu tasarımların ve uygun yapı malzemelerinin test edilmesinde ve geliştirilmesinde birçok olanak oluşturmaktadır. Yerel yerleşimlerin sürdürülmesinde ve geliştirilmesinde çevre dostu bir yaklaşımın desteklenmesiyle birlikte, 2003 yılında kurulan ŞAH-DER (Destek, yardım ve refah amaçlarıyla kurulan Şahmuratlı Köyü ve Kerkenes Derneği) ile beraber, Şahmuratlı Köyü’nün refahı için çalışılmaktadır.
2004 yılında Kerkenes Eko-Merkezi’nde ilk saman balyası tekniği ile inşa edilen yapının bitirilmesinin yanı sıra, devam eden birçok proje uygulanmıştır. Bu projelerin bazıları; kompostlama ve geri dönüşüm için katı atıkların ayrıştırılması, organik tarım için damla sulama sisteminin yaygınlaştırılması, atık suların yeniden kullanıma kazandırılması, enerji verimliliği sağlayan yapıların geliştirilmesinde uygun yapı malzemelerinin ve tasarımların araştırılması olarak sıralanabilir. Yöre halkının sürdürülebilir bir ekonomiye sahip olabilmesi için, yapılan tüm yenilikçi çalışmalar, tasarımlar ve deneyler baştan sonuna kadar ekip üyeleri ile birlikte köy halkının da katılımıyla gerçekleştirilmektedir. Konfor şartlarının sağlanabilmesi için, uygun malzeme ve teknikler araştırılmış, bunların çevresel performansları değerlendirilmiştir. Bu çalışmalar sırasında, köy erkekleri binaların tasarımı ve yapımı için zanatkarlarla birlikte işin içinde yer almaktadırlar. Bu şekilde bu teknikleri öğrenip kolayca kendi evlerine uygulayabilmektedirler.

Preliminary Study on Lightweight Pine Needles Loam.

Aslan, E & Pedergnana, M.
In: International Conference on New Generation Earthern Architecture: Learning from Heritage. Istanbul Aydin University, 11-14 September.


Lightweight loam is an improved traditional mud-based building material consisting of slip clay mixed with a large amount of natural aggregates or fibers that have good heat insulating properties. Amongst the ingredients commonly used are agricultural by-products such as straw, waste such as wood chips, and porous mineral aggregates such as expanded clay. This alternative building material is therefore an appropriate choice when aiming for sustainable building materials and technique: it is available locally, has low embodied energy, and provides an opportunity for self-built construction. The material itself is light (with a density less than 1200 kg/m3) and has good thermal properties. The type of fibers in lightweight loam construction varies depending on their availability. Since organic byproducts are now more widely used as a source of energy and their price is increasing, research on new types of fibers for construction with lightweight loam should be initiated. One suggestion is to experiment with pine needles that are used traditionally as fibers for cob and mudbrick in Latin-American countries as well as in Turkey. Pine needles can thus be used as an alternative in lightweight loam construction. Since lightweight loam construction is not load-bearing and is noted for its good heat insulating properties, the main concern is to test the material for shrinkage and water absorption. Experiments were conducted to determine the most appropriate mix of pine and wet loam. Samples were dried in a controlled environment. Other samples were produced with a manual block press in order to facilitate production with equipment that would be easily available and affordable to the self-builder. Different ratios of pine needle to wet loam were tested for their thermal performance and water resistance properties. The experiments have showed that the production of lightweight loam with pine needles is viable. This paper presents results in hand and recommendations for developing further this building technique.

Samsun 2011

Elif Asuman Korkusuz, Güner Mutaf, Berin Çakmaklı, Françoise Summers


Birleşmiş Milletler Kalkınma Programı, Küresel Çevre Fonu Küçük Destek Programı (UNDP-GEF) tarafından Yozgat Şahmuratlı Köyü’nde 2006-2007 yılları arasında Kerkenes Proje ofisi ve Şahmuratlı Derneği ile beraber uygulanan “Yozgat Şahmuratlı Köyü’nde Güneş Enerji Kullanımlarının Gösterimi ve Yayımı Projesi” ile güneş enerjisi kavramı köy halkına tanıtılmış ve güneş enerjili tasarımlar (güneş ocakları, güneş kurutucuları ve güneş kutu fırınları) ile uygulamalar gerçekleştirilmiştir.
Uygulamalar sırasında köy halkı hem verilen eğitimlere, hem de yapılan tasarım çalışmalarına katıldıklarından güneş enerjili tasarımları kullanmak konusunda ustalık kazanmışlardır. Ancak, zaman içerisinde Şahmuratlı Köyü’nde uygulanmış olan güneş enerjili tasarımların kullanılmalarında bazı sorunlarla karşılaşıldığı belirlenmiştir (ör. güneş ocaklarındaki yansıtıcı yapışkan kağıdının sıklıkla değiştirilme ihtiyacı, döküm-demirden yapılmış ocağın ağır olması ve güneş kurutucularındaki düşük verimlilik).
Bu problemleri gidermek için hazırlanan “Yozgat Sorgun’da Güneş Enerjili Tasarımların İyileştirilmesi ve Markalaşma Altyapısının Kurulması Projesi” yine Birleşmiş Milletler Kalkınma Programı, Küresel Çevre Fonu Küçük Destek Programı (UNDP-GEF) tarafından desteklenmiş ve 2008-2010 yılları arasında uygulanmıştır.

PLEA 2009

Energy Efficiency of Buildings with a Solar Space: Two case studies from the Anatolian Plateau
by Soofia Tahira Elias-Özkan, Francoise Summers and Özün Taner.


This paper discusses two case studies on the energy efficiency of buildings with south facing solar spaces. The study was conducted on buildings located on the Anatolian Plateau, a semi-arid upland region of Central Turkey where the harsh climate is characterized by long severe winters and hot, dry summers. One is an experimental hollow-brick building on the edge of Ankara, the capital city, and the other is a mud-brick building at the Kerkenes Eco-Center located in a traditional village in the Yozgat region. Findings of this study have demonstrated that solar spaces added to both structures have a positive influence on the thermal performance of these buildings by reducing the annual heating loads by almost 10%.

PLEA 2008

Analyzing environmental performance of AAC blocks, strawbales and mud-plaster in hybrid wall construction
by Soofia Tahira Elias-Özkan, Françoise Summers, Tuğrul Karagüzel and Özün Taner.


This aim of this study was to compare the thermal performance of three buildings which are located at the Kerkenes Eco-center in Yozgat, Turkey. The first of these was constructed with strawbales rendered with mud plaster; the second with aerated autoclaved concrete (AAC) blocks and cement plaster; and the third with strawbales rendered with mud plaster inside and a layer of thin AAC blocks on the outside. The last type of hybrid wall construction has been tried for the first time, in order to take advantage of the thermal-insulation property of straw, combined with the humidity-regulating property of mud plaster inside and weatherresistance property of AAC outside. Temperature and humidity data were collected in these three buildings for certain time periods, concurrently. These data have been compared to elicit the degree of variance in the performance of the three types of constructions. Additionally, computer models of these buildings have also been simulated with Ecotect v5.5 for a comparison of their total energy loads.

PLEA 2006

A Comparative Study of the Thermal Performance of Building Materials
by Soofia Tahira Elias-Özkan, Françoise Summers, Neşen Sürmeli and Simos Yannas.


 This study focuses on the environmental performance of a selection of buildings in the typical Central Anatolian village of Şahmuratli in Turkey. The objective was to search for affordable and energy-efficient construction techniques suitable for rural settlements and incorporating traditional cultural values in a semi-arid upland region characterised by long severe winters and hot, dry summers. This was pursued by analysing temperature and humidity measurements within buildings constructed from a variety of traditional and modern materials. The thermal behaviour and comfort, the patterns of energy use and the appropriateness of the different building techniques and materials are analysed, compared and discussed. Aspects of this ongoing study, initiated by a British Council Partnership Programme, are presented in this paper which focuses on a traditional mudbrick structure, a straw bale house and an aerated concrete building. We demonstrate how a building envelope reacts to outdoor conditions through graphic illustration and show ways in which the research can be extended by the creation of simulations using Ecotect software. This research contributes to the promotion of passive and low energy architecture towards a sustainable future.

The Kerkenes Eco-Center and associated studies

International Study Visit to the Straw-bale Energy Efficient Housing Project. 9th-15th July 2006 - People's Republic of China.
Françoise Summers


A presentation of the purpose of the Kerkenes Eco-Center and ongoing activities including village studies in central Anatolia, building with traditional materials and techniques, recycling and studies on environmental performance of buildings

Advanced seminar on bioclimatic architecture in the Mediterranean countries

within the framework of the AZAHAR Program, organized by the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation (AECI) and the Catalan Agency of Cooperation to Development, with the collaboration of the Catalan Institute of Energy Barcelona, 8-14 June 2006.
Summers, F. & Elias Ozkan, S. T.


Presenting case studies from Turkey for bioclimatic design.

PLEA 2003

Comparative Studies of Traditional and Contemporary Construction in Turkey
by Françoise Summers, Nevin Gezer, Ömer Tuğrul Karagüzel, Simos Yannas, Yasemin Somuncu


 The paper will report on the findings of a study of comparative thermal performance of buildings of traditional and contemporary construction in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. The study combined short-term temperature and humidity measurements with a series of parametric studies using a computer simulation model. Measurements were taken in four single-storey, detached buildings in the village of Sahmuratli in Yozgat, Central Anatolia (latitude 40N). The climate of the region is characterised by cold winters and warm summers. Winter temperatures are near or below freezing in December and January. In summer, outdoor air temperatures rise to peaks above 30C in July and August, and display a considerable daily fluctuation. Thus for summer, in addition to solar control, this climatic profile suggests the need for high thermal capacity in the building structure, acting as interim heat sink, with night-time ventilation or radiative cooling as the permanent heat dissipation mechanisms. In winter thermal insulation is clearly the critical parameter so that solar and internal gains can lead to meaningful temperature rises whilst the thermal capacity of the structure controls temperature fluctuations.

The future of rural housing in Turkey: Back to earth?

In: Peter Steingass (ed) Moderner Lehmbau, Berlin 24-26th October. Fraunhofer IRBVerlag, Germany: 174-182.
2003 Summers, F.


Traditional building materials in rural Turkey are rapidly being replaced by hollow extruded clay blocks (blok tuğla) and reinforced concrete. Skills developed and perfected over many generations are now being lost and forgotten. The properties of modern materials are not fully considered and if advantages are understood, disadvantages remain unchallenged. The noticeable difference between the insulating properties of a single leaf wall built of 19 cm wide extruded clay blocks, and those of a 50 cm thick mudbrick wall is ignored and as a result a significant amount of heat is unnecessarily dissipated. An initial saving in the capital cost of buildings results not only in high heating costs but also creates conditions that remain well below the expected standards of comfort. If capital cost is a critical issue and the rural population of Turkey is unable to invest in the initial extra expense to provide adequate insulation to their newly built houses, alternatives should be suggested. Is the return to traditions and local materials the solution? An ongoing study1 conducted at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara focuses on documenting the rapidly disappearing traditional buildings, materials and techniques and making comparative analysis of the environmental performance of buildings, traditional and contemporary, with the help of computer simulation studies. Alternative and appropriate building materials are to be proposed and tested.