Growing House for Disaster Areas

With the recent earthquake in the Marmara region of northwestern Turkey, the probability of a major earthquake with an epicenter on the fault line south of Istanbul has increased. Experts have prepared a drastic scenario for greater Istanbul,a metropolitan area with 2,600 years of history and a population of 10 million people: if hit with a quake of 7.4 magnitude on the Richter scale, Istanbul would experience fatalities of 0.4% of its population (40,000 people), injuries to 1.6% (160,000 people), and damage to between 9% and 50% of its buildings, depending on the district. The quake would damage major highway and bridge connections in and out of Istanbul, as well as power, natural gas, and sewage lines.

With such a disaster knocking on the door, the issue of how to house populations safely on and near an earthquake fault line deserves increased attention. With the latest disaster in Marmara, experts recommend that sites for new settlements be located on geologically sound areas, that independent construction control systems be employed, and that low-rise, less-dense settlements be given preference. One such low-rise scheme of housing proposes one- and two-story houses designed to grow in eight steps on flat and sloped sites, which can be clustered to form 1,024 and 1,536 units, or multiples of these numbers. The “growing house” is designed to house populations in medium-density settlements. With the changing needs of the users, the house itself grows. The first step is the provision of sites and services, and basic module of sofa (common room)-kitchen-bathroom. With other steps following the provision of the basic module, based on the user’s needs, the house can grow to up to 100 square meters on two levels (combined), keeping its 15-square-meter courtyard, and housing 12-14 users. The proposed scheme may meet the needs of the following users:

One floor + courtyard

Sofa + kitchen (k) + bathroom (b) / 28.68 m2/ 2 people

Sofa + room (r) + k + b / 39.18 m2 / 4 people

Sofa + 2r + k + b / 49.68 m2 / 6 people

Two floors + courtyard

Sofa + 3.5r + k + 2b / single tenant on both levels / 49.68 m2 (lower) 28.68 m2 (upper) / 8-10 people

Sofa + k + b / tenant on upper level / 2 people

Sofa + 4.5r + k + 2b / single tenant on both levels / 49.68 m2 (lower) 39.18 m2 (upper) / 10-12 people

Sofa + r + k + b / tenant on upper level / 4 people

Sofa + 5.5r + k + 2b / single tenant on both levels / 49.68 m2 (lower) 49.68 m2 (upper) / 12-14 people

Sofa + 2r + k + b / tenant on upper level / 6 people

The growing house, with all the variations it has to offer-suitability to Turkish living and cultural habits and easy adaptability to low-rise, medium-density settlements-would be a compatible scheme for use in earthquake zones in Turkey. It also would be economically feasible, since it would be built in steps to parallel growth needs.