Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport is located 20km from a major fault line in one of the most seismically active regions on Earth. When we were asked us to design an air traffic control tower for its forthcoming new runway, we faced one of our toughest challenges yet.
Our main objective was to create a tower that would remain in full working order after a major earthquake, which is a real risk at this airport. If a serious earthquake happened, roads and railways could be seriously affected, turning the airport into a vital lifeline and its control tower a strategic operational hub.
So we didn’t just have to consider the tower’s ability to stay upright; we also had to make sure the non-structural elements including data, cooling systems, radar and communications systems inside, would carry on functioning even if disaster struck.
Services connections have been jointed to accommodate this movement without affecting the systems.
...OUR STIFF BUT LIGHT-WEIGHT STEEL FRAME REDUCES THE WEIGHT OF THE STRUCTURE BY 40%...
Knowing how complex the challenge was, we quickly assembled a team of in-house specialists from a wide range of disciplines, including internationally renowned seismic and wind specialists.
Leading the close collaboration between these experts, we created a revolutionary design. Most control towers are made of heavy concrete cylinders, supporting the cab at the top, but in an earthquake this mass would add to the stresses in the tower. Our stiff but light-weight steel frame reduces the weight of the structure by 40%. Furthermore the tower is supported on giant bearings which allow the base of the tower to move by up to 1m in any direction under high seismic loads. This reduces the predicted forces in the structure by 75%
Tall slender towers are commonly susceptible to uncomfortable osciallations of the tower arising from wind buffeting and vortex shedding. These problems are normally solved through expensive motion damping systems.
The continuously varying diameter of the tower, combined with the alternating solid-void diamond pattern of cladding panels minimises these effects by disrupting the vortices.
Our passive wind mitigation design is considered by the experts to be so effective that the tower will not need the damping systems.
The result of our collaboration, a 112 metre-high tower that keeps the air-traffic controllers up the tower comfortable, whilst still being able to withstand even the most devasting of earthquakes without any compromise on year-round comfort or efficiency.
At 112 metres, the tower will be one of the tallest of its kind in the world
The Sabiha Gokcen Tower is as sculpturally beautiful as it is ground-breaking. By day, its impressive silhouette will be seen from miles around and at night, it will light up the skyline like a lantern.
The client has adopted the tower’s pioneering design as a landmark symbol for the airport and the region as a whole.
"pioneering design as a landmark symbol for the airport and region as a whole."
Client: HEAS Inc
Architecture: Arup Associates
Engineering: Arup Associates and Arup