Sabiha Gökçen Terminal

  • Largest seismically isolated building in the world, designed to withstand an earthquake measuring 7.5–8.0 on the Richter scale.
  • Award of Merit by Structural Engineers Association of California, category Landmark Structures.
  • Award of European Convention for Constructional Steelwork (ECCS) Steel Design 2011.

Our design for this new terminal uses 300 isolators to reduce lateral earthquake loads by 80%, enabling it to withstand an earthquake of 7.5-8.0 on the Richter scale. This makes the building, at over 40,000m2 on plan, the largest seismically isolated structure built to date.

Exhaustive testing

The terminal's location means these measures are essential - Istanbul experiences large earthquakes because of its position close to the North Anatolian Fault, which runs for 1,500km between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. To ensure the building would withstand such an earthquake, our team of seismic experts tested the design in 14 different earthquake scenarios. The amount of movement the building could withstand surpassed even our expectations. 

International collaboration

The success was due to engineers from our Istanbul and Los Angeles offices, who worked together to design and deliver the project in just 18 months – record time for a project of such scale and ambition.

“The Sabiha Gökçen International Airport terminal project will be recognised globally for its superior earthquake safety features and completion in record time.”

Atila Zekioglu, Arup Principal and seismic expert for the SGIA project

As well as structuralseismic and infrastructural engineering design services, we also provided airport planning consultancy for the project. This covered airfield ground lighting, high mast lighting, a visual docking guidance system, aircraft fuel hydrants and baggage handling systems.

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  • Sabiha Gökçen Terminal. Credit: Cemal EmdenOpen gallery

    Arup provided structural, seismic and infrastructural engineering design services for the terminal.

  • Sabiha Gökçen Terminal. Credit: Cemal EmdenOpen gallery

    The structure was tested against 14 potential earthquake scenarios.