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Main Page arrow News arrow What is a seismic isolator? What is the world's largest seismically isolated building?

What is a seismic isolator? What is the world's largest seismically isolated building?

22 February 2023
In the aftermath of earthquake disasters, the necessity of employing seismic isolators becomes increasingly evident. Isolators are particularly preferred for large public buildings, as they significantly reduce the effects of earthquakes. Shaking is either not felt or greatly minimized on the upper floors when isolators are placed on the vertical carriers and between the building and its foundations. 
In the wake of the earthquakes centered in Kahramanmaraş, particular attention has turned to the durability of buildings and the use of seismic isolators. Isolators are absolutely crucial for safeguarding human life and preventing property damage during earthquakes, provided that building projects and their applications are executed correctly. Seismic isolators have become vital in earthquake-prone areas by significantly reducing earthquake loads and accelerations acting on structures.


Hospitals require seismic isolators to ensure optimal safety during earthquakes

Seismic isolators are critical for protecting hospitalized patients during earthquakes and are now required for all newly constructed hospitals. Were there any hospitals built with seismic isolators in the area affected by the Kahramanmaraş-centered earthquakes before the recent disaster? 

It turns out that several hospitals, including the Malatya Maternity and Children's Hospital, the Elazığ Fethi Sekin City Hospital, the Gaziantep İnayet Topçu Hospital, and the Adana City Hospital, remained intact thanks to the use of seismic isolators. 

Rönesans Holding Engineering Group President Serdar Binzet, who has overseen the engineering plans of four city hospitals employing earthquake isolator systems, explained why the Fethi Sekin City Hospital built in Elazığ was unaffected by the earthquake. Binzet stated, "When designing the building, we based our calculations on research conducted by experts, which determined that the strongest earthquake that might occur in the region will be equivalent to a force of 0.69G in the year 2475. Accordingly, we designed the hospital with 872 seismic isolators.”


The world's largest seismically isolated building with 2068 seismic isolators

While highlighting that surgeries and other critical patient procedures must not be interrupted in the event of an earthquake, Serdar Binzet stated: "After the earthquake, in addition to the lack of damage in hospitals, non-structural elements such as walls, ceilings, shelves with materials and medical equipment should also be expected to continue functioning. In other words, a targeted performance during an earthquake can be referred to as operational, that is, the continuation of operations within a structure. Therefore, the most effective method when it comes to building statics is earthquake isolation, i.e., isolator systems. At Rönesans Holding, we have used this method in our hospitals constructed in high-risk earthquake zones.”

While pointing out that this system is also used in other hospitals built by Rönesans Holding, Binzet said: "İstanbul's Başakşehir Çam and Sakura City Hospital, which has 2068 seismic isolators, holds the title of "the world's largest seismically isolated building." In addition, the Başakşehir Çam and Sakura Hospital design has been awarded the REDi (Resilience-based Earthquake Design Initiative), i.e., Earthquake Resistance Platinum certificate. 

One of the most important features of our structures that employ isolators is that every isolator has been tested one by one under simulated earthquake loads, even though European and Turkish earthquake codes do not require this. Tests are completed under the rigorous supervision and approval of experienced Turkish and American professors at the University of San Diego."

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About Rönesans Group

Rönesans Holding, the conglomerate's top investment entity headquartered in Ankara, is the 38th largest international contracting company globally and the 9th largest in Europe. With operations spanning 30 countries across Europe, Central Asia, and Africa, including subsidiaries such as Ballast Nedam in the Netherlands and Heitkamp Industrial Solutions GmbH in Germany, Rönesans has been operating as the main contractor and investor successfully for 30 years in construction, real estate development, healthcare and energy. Putting resilience and growth through innovation at the core of the company, with a priority on sustainability and social development, Rönesans has developed projects supporting students with scholarships, academic platforms and initiatives; been a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2015; and a signatory of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles since 2016.

Under the leadership of its president, Erman Ilıcak, Rönesans, along with its partners GIC, Meridiam Infrastructure, Sojitz, Samsung C&T, TotalEnergies, and IFC of the World Bank Group (minority shareholder in the group), has invested more than EUR8 billion into pioneering projects globally.

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