Whether arid or green, we always admire the beauty of the hills and mountains that are found in the different regions of Pakistan. But, have you ever wondered how they were formed in the first place? Well, the geological sciences say that mountainous plateaus are formed due to extreme seismic activities, which are caused by the movement of the tectonic plates.
Pakistan is blessed with many wonders of nature. However, beneath the surface of this alluring beauty lies an unavoidable threat — and that is — the region’s seismic zones. No wonder our country enjoys a strategic position on the global map, but that wouldn’t change the fact that it can be hit by an earthquake at any moment.
Starting from the coastal area like Gwadar, all the way to the Babusar Top, one of the country’s highest points, there are many seismic hotspots. However, coming up with more earthquake-resistant structures is the best that can be done to protect the lives and property of people.
So, what are earthquake-proof buildings? To answer this question, we’ll highlight the architecture, way of construction and special design features of these robust structures.
UNDERSTANDING MORE ABOUT EARTHQUAKE-PROOF ARCHITECTURE
It all comes down to fitness, strength and flexibility. Earthquake-resistant buildings are designed with all of these three key features. It is the only way they can withstand some of the mightiest natural forces on earth.
It is very important for architects to design a vertical structure where the weight is intelligently distributed. For instance, any particular activity area or part of a project that is supposed to contain heavy components or equipment should be placed on a lower level.
According to scientific evidence and calculations, the effect of seismic forces changes according to the building’s weight. It means that if the weight is distributed evenly, it would bring down the impact of the natural disaster.
CORRECT CHOICE OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS AND METHODS
Do an earthquake-resistant building need special construction materials? Of course, not. In fact, they are built using some of the most commonly used construction equipment and materials. The thing that adds to the flexibility and strength of a structure that makes it survive an earthquake is the way it is constructed.
Beams, pillars, columns, slabs, etc.; every important feature of an earthquake-resistant structure should be put together in a way to retain the element of flexibility. Materials like concrete and structural steel are widely popular in earthquake-proof construction since they are flexible yet durable.
However, it is important to note that rigidness or any kind of excessive friction usually results in greater damage to the structure.
Suggested: If you have some time to spare, make sure to check our informative analysis of concrete OF steel. We’ve tried settling the debate for you.
Building a strong, stable and flexible foundation is crucial in earthquake proofing
A strong foundation is everything — and it becomes all the more important to add flexibility to it as well while constructing a building to survive earthquakes. While pouring the foundation of a building into a seismic active area, flexible pads can be used to neutralise the effect of natural forces.
However, to build a strong and stable foundation, you need to test the soil of that particular piece of land. It is very important for the ground to be suitable for the construction of earthquake-proof structures. Buildings and even entire cities can succumb to the powerful forces of nature without proper inspection and preventive measures.
On a side note, you may like reading this piece detailing the importance of soil testing in construction.
BASE ISOLATION SYSTEM
The installation of the seismic base isolation system effectively helps make a building earthquake-resistant. This technique can be included in structures that are located in areas prone to extreme seismic activities. A base isolation system usually comprises sliding units that neutralise the force of an earthquake to some extent.
It’s a cutting-edge mechanism that minimises the impact of a shaking building. When tested by geologists and field experts, buildings with and without base isolation systems respond to seismic waves very differently. The readings of vibrations transferred to a structure are closely observed.
REINFORCE THE STRUCTURE
Along with redistributing weight, the designers of the buildings should also focus on directing forces evenly throughout the structure. To enhance the performance of a building during a seismic event, advanced structural components like shear walls and diaphragms are used. It is probably the most reliable method to date to reinforce a structure to increase its strength and flexibility.
Well, let’s not forget about cross-bracing and moment-resisting frames. As the name suggests, cross-bracing is a construction method that involves the crossing of braces. The X-shaped structures not only increase the stability of the structure but also allow it to bear lateral forces and loads.
On the other hand, moment-resisting frames are positioned along structural joints. By allowing beams and columns to bend without causing any damage, these purpose-built frames also greatly add to the reinforcement qualities and flexibility of the structure.
HIGH-TECH SOLUTIONS FOR EARTHQUAKE PROOFING
Life is going in the fast lane in the 21st century. We have learned a lot of new tricks to work with new technologies to cater to our lifestyle needs. Amid the growing urban population around the world, the need for vertical developments is increasing day by day. Since vertical construction is directly linked to sustainable infrastructure and development, it can’t be avoided.
According to the basic laws of physics, the higher we go, the more prone our structures become to vibration. And, that wouldn’t be the ideal case if you live in an earthquake-prone area. But, thanks to technology and the cutting-edge expertise of modern-day architects and engineers, we have developed solutions like tuned mass dampers.
No matter how tall a high-rise development is, tuned dampers are designed to neutralise vibrations. They not only project their host buildings from seismic effects but also from high wind pressures. Due to its unique abilities, a tuned mass damper system is also dubbed “seismic invisibility cloak.”
HOW TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE DURING AN EARTHQUAKE
Even if you are in an earthquake-proof building, you need to take all preventive measures to keep yourself safe during a seismic disaster. When calamity strikes, try to stay away from electrical equipment and appliances near you. You can also crawl under a desk, table or any other sturdy piece of furniture and stay put until the situation normalises.