The New Age of Turkish Development Practices

Earthquake resistant technology

Turkey’s Modern Development Environment

Turkey’s geographical attributes present very unique challenges for developers across the nation. The country is part of a select group of nations that are situated on top of continental fault lines. To date, Japan and the United States have spearheaded earthquake resistant building techniques to limit the impact of catastrophic seismic events. However, over the last decade Turkey has emerged as a world leader in development of earthquake proof technology and continues to push the sector forward into the future.

The building construction processes in Turkey are protected by law and regulated by both the central government and local governments. The Ministry of Environment, Urbanisation, and Climate is the primary authority overseeing these processes, while local governments have more authority during the construction phases. The regulations set by the Ministry of Environment are designed to align with international standards to ensure that Turkey’s building construction processes meet global benchmarks. This is particularly significant considering the 1999 Marmara Earthquake and the 2023 Southeastern Anatolia Earthquake, which has prompted increased scrutiny and inspection of construction phases. With the private sector working hand-in-hand with the nation’s government resources, Turkey is well positioned to boost innovation, speed, and quality in their urban regeneration initiatives. 

Building Systems Evolution

Over the course of this century Turkey has referenced Japanese building construction processes. Japan is known for its advanced engineering and construction techniques, particularly in relation to seismic resilience due to its frequent earthquakes. The Turkish government and Turkey’s major developers have taken a proactive approach in the way they coordinate with Japanese engineers. Many of Japan’s leading engineers have been tapped to bring these technologies to Turkey’s construction sector. By adopting international standards and drawing from the Japanese model, Turkey aims to enhance the safety and quality of its building construction processes. This relationship marks a historic landmark in the evolution of Turkish construction history. The employment of these techniques has led to great innovation blossoming from a strong foundation from global partnerships.

Earthquake resistance

Modern Earthquake Building Techniques

There are a number of cutting-edge earthquake proofing construction techniques that are being utilised in Turkey today. There are four main styles of engineered technology that are being utilised by Turkish developers: Base Isolation, Ductile Detailing, Dissipative Systems, Non-Structural Focus. 

Base Isolation

Base Isolation is a seismic retrofitting technique where a building is decoupled from the ground using a set of isolators, reducing the impact of an earthquake's forces on the structure. These isolators, usually consisting of rubber bearings and friction pendulum bearings, allow the building to move with the ground movement, limiting structural deformation and damage. By limiting the energy transfer from the ground to the building, base isolation significantly enhances the building's resistance to seismic events and aids in maintaining structural integrity during earthquakes.

Ductile Detailing

Ductile Detailing is a technique to ensure that buildings can withstand large deformations and displacements caused by earthquakes without experiencing sudden failure. It involves the strategic placement and reinforcement of materials in key structural elements, enabling them to bend and flex under stress rather than break. By fostering energy dissipation through inelastic deformation in specific areas, such as beams and columns, this approach helps safeguard the overall structural integrity of the building during seismic events.

Dissipative Systems

Dissipative Systems in building design refer to the incorporation of elements that can absorb and dissipate seismic energy, thus reducing the impact of an earthquake on the structure. These elements, often referred to as dampers, are strategically placed in the building to absorb the energy from the seismic waves, leading to less shaking and reduced damage. Common types of dampers include viscous dampers, tuned mass dampers, and metallic yield dampers, each providing varying levels of energy dissipation under different seismic conditions.

Non-Structural Elements

The consideration of non-structural elements in building design involves focusing on parts of the building that do not contribute to its overall strength or stability, but whose failure during an event like an earthquake can cause significant damage, injury, or loss of function. These elements can include architectural features like facades and partitions, mechanical and electrical systems, and contents like furniture and equipment. Techniques in this area focus on properly anchoring and bracing these elements, using flexible connections where necessary, and employing materials and designs that can withstand shaking and other forces to prevent damage and harm during seismic events.

Other things that make buildings more earthquake-proof

In addition to these techniques, there are a number of other things that can be done to make buildings more earthquake-proof, such as using strong, durable materials, ensuring proper design and construction, and scheduling regular maintenance and inspection. The materials that are used to build a structure can have a big impact on its earthquake resistance. Using strong, durable materials, such as reinforced concrete, can help to make a building more resilient to damage. It is also important to design and construct buildings according to earthquake-resistant standards. This includes using the proper materials, techniques, and methods. Making sure the oversight of the construction sector is of utmost importance to reducing catastrophic outcomes. It is also important to regularly maintain and inspect buildings for signs of damage. This can help to identify and repair any problems before they become serious.

When it comes to Base Isolation, Turkey is working on developing new and innovative earthquake-proofing construction technology. Turkey’s Friction Pendulum System is a new type of base isolation system that is more effective and less expensive than traditional base isolation systems. Turkey's efforts to develop and deploy earthquake-proofing construction technologies are being closely watched by the world and the FPS is one of the shining examples of globally recognised construction innovation.

FPS Diagram

Turkey’s Friction Pendulum System

The new type of base isolation system that Turkey is developing is called the “Friction Pendulum System" (FPS). FPS uses a series of pendulums to isolate the foundation of a building from the ground. The pendulums are designed to rotate during an earthquake, which helps to reduce the amount of shaking that the building experiences. FPS systems are more effective and less expensive than traditional base isolation systems. Traditional base isolation systems use a series of rubber bearings to isolate the foundation of a building from the ground. Rubber bearings are more expensive than pendulums, and they can be damaged during an earthquake.

FPS systems are more effective than traditional base isolation systems in reducing the amount of shaking that a building experiences during an earthquake.

They are less expensive, more durable, and are easier to install compared to traditional base isolation systems. FPS systems have been tested in a number of earthquakes, and they have been shown to be very effective in reducing the amount of damage that is caused to buildings and can withstand more damage during an earthquake than traditional base isolation systems. FPS systems are currently being used in a number of buildings in Turkey, and they are being considered for use in buildings all over the world.

Site Specific Approaches

In earthquake resistance construction work is done on the building site itself, before the building construction gets underway. The building construction system in Turkey follows a systematic approach that prioritises ground survey work, soil quality assessment, and isolation studies. 

Ground Survey engineers conduct surveys to assess the characteristics and stability of the soil. This step helps determine the suitability of the site for construction. Detailed studies are then carried out to evaluate the soil quality, including its composition, bearing capacity, and potential for settlement. Additionally, isolation measures are considered to minimise the impact of external factors such as moisture and gases on the building's foundation. If a site is deemed suitable for building, the ground strength is assessed through various tests to determine its load-bearing capacity. This information is crucial in designing the appropriate foundation for the building. Based on the results of the ground survey and strength tests, the foundation is opened and constructed. The type of foundation will depend on the soil conditions and the structural requirements of the building. Once the foundation is prepared, concreting works take place. This involves pouring concrete into the foundation and constructing the structural elements of the building.

Throughout these processes, the importance of regulatory oversight to ensure compliance with building standards and safety regulations is paramount. Local government authorities play a crucial role in overseeing and approving each stage of the construction process. By implementing these measures and obtaining permission at each stage, the construction system in Turkey aims to ensure that buildings are constructed on suitable ground, with appropriate foundations and adherence to local regulations and standards. This helps promote safety and structural integrity in the built environment.

Future Urban Regeneration Outlook

The participation of numerous companies obtaining licenses to participate in the regeneration plans include the completion of over 350,000 residences with more durable buildings. This reflects Turkey’s commitment to creating safer and more resilient housing in the totality of the sector. The government's adherence to safety regulations and inspection processes is playing a significant role in ensuring the well-being of occupants during the earthquakes. 

With over 40 million properties in Turkey, it is a significant housing market. The average house sales ranges from 1-1.5 million over the last ten years; a consistent, high demand. This suggests that there is ongoing construction of new houses to meet the needs of the population. 120,000 houses trade hands every month demonstrating the dynamic nature of the housing market in Turkey. 

Regarding foreigners, it is noteworthy that between 30,000-70,000 houses are sold annually to non-Turkish buyers. Interest level and demand from foreign investors and individuals has reached new heights post-COVID. The global community is beginning to see potential in the Turkish real estate market, whether for financial gain, long-term residence, or vacation purposes, and these high level construction processes are key in continuing growth for the nation over the long term.


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