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Cell-Filled Wall System

Seda Cengiz

Published Aug 7, 2020

Although Vernacular Architecture in Turkey shows itself in many ways, varying by region and climate, Timber Frame System is a construction technique often seen in rural areas of Turkey.

This construction system is seen as stuffed with a material; with timber, with brick, with mud or mud-brick, with stone, with stone and timber (göz dolgu – cell-filled wall system) (Figure 1).

Eastern Black Sea Region, the very northeast of Turkey, has steep lands around streams. This characteristic enables the vernacular architecture benefits from stream stones. In addition, in the region, climate conditions provide wide and dense forest lands, moreover thick and durable tree species.

Among the other construction systems, theCell-Filled Timber Frame System is a grid system of approximately 20x20 cm (Cengiz, 2017). A construction technique is seen mostly in the coastal zone of the Eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The technique is unique by using timber and stone materials together in a grid system (Güler and Bilge, 2014) (Figure 2).

In this construction technique, a masonry foundation and basement-floor wall are constructed (Kitapçı, 2014). For this type, these masonry walls are critical for separating the building from the humid ground. “The technique employs vertical load-bearing timber studs, supported with diagonal piers. These primary bearer studs -the timber frame system- are placed on a stone masonry wall...” (Cengiz, 2017). With the timber girders, approximately 40x40 cm in section, these primary timber studs and diagonal piers join in the corners with a special nail-less system, called as half-lap joint (Figure 3).

In-between the prior structural system, secondary series of studs are inserted, standing approximately 20 centimeters apart, and between two secondary studs, there are the thin horizontal timber laths as shelves. This shelving system is named as terekleme in the area. These cells are filled with square formed one-piece stream stones and gypsum mortar (Cengiz and Bayazitoğlu, 2014) (Figure 4).

Because of the resistance to humidity and insects, the chestnut tree is the most preferred tree species in Cell-Filled vernacular houses. By the time, chestnut gets harder and darker (Salgın et al., 2017).

As the chestnut pieces darken by time, with the brightness of lime mortar and the diversity of the tones of grey stream stones, it creates the classical look of the coastal vernacular architecture of the Eastern Black Sea Region (Figure 5).

“The inner faces of the walls are covered with timber boards, while the outer faces are left as uncovered. Therefore, the construction system can be seen on these outer faces of the walls. The inner separation walls were built again using timber boards placed between the timber posts” (Cengiz, 2017).

This system is called as göz dolgu wall system in Turkey (Cengiz, 2015). In English, various researchers entitle this system in various ways. Güler and Bilge (2014) use the term “cell infilling system”, while Usta et al (2012) mention “cellular/square-shaped box type”. In addition, a different expression is “stuffed wall”, with referring to some of the locals, by Batur and Gür (2005).


Batur, A. and Öymen Gür, Ş. (2005). Rural Architecture in Eastern Black Sea Region, İstanbul: Milli Reasürans

T.A.Ş., p. 12.

Cengiz, S. (2015). Rural Architecture in Black Sea Region: Rize - Findikli - Hara Village - Köseoğlu House Example.

MSc. Istanbul Technical University.

Cengiz, S. (2017). Traditional Rural Architecture in Eastern Black Sea Region: Case Study on Rize-Fındıklı-Hara Village. In: ATINER's Conference Paper Series no: ARC2016-2330. Athens: Athens Institute for Education and Research.

Cengiz, S. and Bayazitoğlu, Ü. C. (2014). Traditional and Innovative Material Usage on Building Restoration; Timber Frame Housing Example. In: 2nd International Conference on Protection of Historical Constructions- PROHITECH’14. İstanbul: Boğaziçi University Publishing.

Güler, K. and Bilge, A. C. (2014). Construction Techniques of the Vernacular Architecture of the Eastern Black Sea Region. In: Vernacular Heritage and Earthen Architecture: Contributions for Sustainable Development. London: Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 295-300.

Kitapçı, C. (2014). Living in a rural area in Eastern Black Sea.

Salgın, B., Bayram, Ö. F., Akgün, A. and Agyekum, K. (2017). Sustainable Features of Vernacular Architecture: Housing of Eastern Black Sea Region as a Case Study. Arts 2017, [online] Vol. 6(11). Available at: [Accessed 01 Dec. 2018].

Usta, G., Onur, D. and Efe Ziyrek, B. (2012). The Impact of Physical and Socio-cultural Factors on Structuring Vernacular Dwellings in Eastern Black Sea Region. Scientific Research and Essays, [online] Vol. 7(8), pp. 839-851. Available at: [Accessed 01 Dec. 2018].

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