Threatened and neglected they may be, but Istanbul's old wooden houses are hardly the city's "least appreciated architectural forms" -- at least not by me.
According to a recent article by Reuters, there are perhaps just 250 timber houses left in the whole city. Most of the ones you see are on the verge of collapse; as far as I understand it, historic-protection laws don't allow them to be torn down, so owners who'd rather build a big concrete apartment block on the property have to wait for the elements to do their work.
"The decline of the timber houses began early in the 20th century," Simon Akam wrote for Reuters. "After devastating fires during World War I, the authorities banned construction in wood. In the 1920s foreign minorities -- who dominated the ranks of the skilled craftsman needed to build and maintain the structures -- began to leave. Then, following World War II, the Turkish middle classes started to desert old wooden neighborhoods like Zeyrek and Suleymaniye for more modern accommodation. In their place came poor rural migrants who had neither the means nor the experience to maintain the houses."
Training courses in traditional building construction and repair now being given by the Istanbul Municipality seem to offer some hope, however, that a few of these beauties might be restored to their former glory.