Istanbul’s brand new Sabiha Gökçen International Airport airport terminal opened on October 31st of this year and is now the world’s largest earthquake-proof building. Named after the world’s first woman combat pilot, the new 2 million square-foot structure is capable of not only withstanding a magnitude 8.0 earthquake – it’s also designed to remain completely operational afterwards. This is all due to new seismic building technology and advanced computer simulations that are able to predict how a building will react in order to keep it safe.

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Instanbul is located at the confluence of 3 tectonic plates and is very likely to feel another major earthquake in the near future. That means that new earthquake-proof buildings like this one are not only critical to saving lives, but also reducing the costs of damage.

Arup, a leading sustainable design and engineering firm, is responsible for the design of the new airport terminal. In order to withstand massive earthquakes, the entire building must be isolated from the ground and allowed to move in a way that absorbs shock-waves of energy. The new airport terminal uses a new building technology called “triple friction pendulum isolators”, which are seismic isolation devices manufactured by Earthquake Protection Systems. When the airport first started construction, it was the first building to utilize the life saving devices, but since then many facilities and hospitals are including them in their earthquake-safe designs.

The new isolating device lifts the whole building off the ground and helps dampen and slow down the movements of the building during an earthquake. Older seismic isolation devices were much more costly to manufacture and install, but the new device is saving money on all fronts, making it much easier to build with. The new airport terminal utilizes 300 of these devices, which were installed according to advanced computer simulations and modeling to create the world’s largest earthquake-safe building.

+ Sabiha Gökçen International Airport


Wired via Gizmodo