Yurta, Kyrgyzstan

From World Housing Encyclopedia

1. General Information

Report: 35

Building Type: Yurta

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Author(s): Ulugbek T. Begaliev, Svetlana Uranova

Last Updated:

Regions Where Found: Buildings of this construction type can be found in Kyrgyzstan, typically in the mountains. This type of housing construction is commonly found in rural areas.

Summary: This type of building is the national traditional dwelling of the Kyrgyz people. It is light movable construction. The bearing structure of a yurta is a special wood frame, consisting of wood poles. The wood frame is covered by felt tension cloth.. The floors are traditionally covered with felt rugs (koshma). Yurtas can be easily unassembled and moved to new places. They are warm in winter and cool in the summer. The buildings have only one door and one opening in the roof. Yurtas are circular in plan. The diameter is usually 4m-6m. This type of building is used at the present time by shepherds, particularly during the summer, and for celebrations and funerals, and as temporary buildings during extreme situations in Kyrgyzstan. The yurta is a very light structure, has a symmetrical plan and has good seismic resistance.

Length of time practiced: More than 200 years

Still Practiced: Yes

In practice as of:

Building Occupancy: Single dwelling

Typical number of stories: 1

Terrain-Flat: Never

Terrain-Sloped: Typically


2. Features

Plan Shape: Curved, solid (e.g. circular, elliptical, ovoid)

Additional comments on plan shape: The typical building shape for a yurta is a circle.

Typical plan length (meters): 6

Typical plan width (meters): 6

Typical story height (meters): 4

Type of Structural System: Other

Additional comments on structural system: Lateral load-resisting system: Lateral Load-Resisting System consists of the very stable, evenly spaced wooden poles that form the frame. Gravity load-bearing system: Gravity Load-Bearing Structure consists of the frame formed by the wood poles.

Gravity load-bearing & lateral load-resisting systems: Wooden Space Frame: special frame of wooden poles, evenly spaced.

Typical wall densities in direction 1: 4-5%

Typical wall densities in direction 2: 4-5%

Additional comments on typical wall densities: Summary thickness of wall with wood pole is about 10cm. Wall density is on the order of 5%.

Wall Openings: House has no windows and has one door 1.9(h) m x 0.9m. There is also a circular opening in the roof.

Is it typical for buildings of this type to have common walls with adjacent buildings?: No

Modifications of buildings: Typically there are no modifications made to a yurta.

Type of Foundation: Other Foundation

Additional comments on foundation: No foundation.

Type of Floor System: Other floor system

Additional comments on floor system:

Type of Roof System: Roof system, other

Additional comments on roof system: Timber: Wooden pole

Additional comments section 2: Typical separation distance between buildings: minimum 10 meters as a rule

3. Building Process

Description of Building Materials

Structural Element Building Material (s) Comment (s)
Wall/Frame Wall: felt cloth Frame: wood pole
Roof Characteristic Strength: Mix Proportion/Dimensions:
Other Characteristic Strength: Mix Proportion/Dimensions:

Design Process

Who is involved with the design process? None of the above

Roles of those involved in the design process: There is no special expertise associated with this building type.

Expertise of those involved in the design process:

Construction Process

Who typically builds this construction type? Owner

Roles of those involved in the building process: Usually shepherds live in yurtas. They assemble the yurtas themselves. It can also be used as a temporary building by any person. This building type is erected without engineers and architects.

Expertise of those involved in building process: The yurta is erected by its inhabitants/owners without any special building expertise or knowledge of building techniques.

Construction process and phasing: This building is typically constructed incrementally and isn't designed for its final constructed size.

Construction issues:

Building Codes and Standards

Is this construction type address by codes/standards? 2

Applicable codes or standards: Yurtas were used before introduction of building codes

Process for building code enforcement:

Building Permits and Development Control Rules

Are building permits required? No

Is this typically informal construction? Yes

Is this construction typically authorized as per development control rules? No

Additional comments on building permits and development control rules:

Building Maintenance and Condition

Typical problems associated with this type of construction: It is necessary to have experience assembling wood pole bearing system.

Who typically maintains buildings of this type? Owner(s)

Additional comments on maintenance and building condition:

Construction Economics

Unit construction cost: About 50-70$/m2.

Labor requirements: One day for 4 people.

Additional comments section 3:

4. Socio-Economic Issues

Patterns of occupancy: Yurta is a dwelling unit for one family.

Number of inhabitants in a typical building of this construction type during the day: 5-10

Number of inhabitants in a typical building of this construction type during the evening/night: 5-10

Additional comments on number of inhabitants: Less than 5, 5-10 day/night time inhabitants.

Economic level of inhabitants: Low-income class (poor)

Additional comments on economic level of inhabitants: 80% poor, 20% middle class

Typical Source of Financing: Owner financedPersonal savings

Additional comments on financing:

Type of Ownership: Own outright

Additional comments on ownership:

Is earthquake insurance for this construction type typically available?: No

What does earthquake insurance typically cover/cost:

Are premium discounts or higher coverages available for seismically strengthened buildings or new buildings built to incorporate seismically resistant features?: No

Additional comments on premium discounts:

Additional comments section 4:

5. Earthquakes

Past Earthquakes in the country which affected buildings of this type

Year Earthquake Epicenter Richter Magnitude Maximum Intensity
1992 Suusamir 7.4 9
1986 Kairakum 6.8 7

Past Earthquakes

Damage patterns observed in past earthquakes for this construction type: During the indicated earthquakes and many others, yurtas had no damages.

Additional comments on earthquake damage patterns: Yurtas have not been seriously damaged in earthquakes.

Structural and Architectural Features for Seismic Resistance

The main reference publication used in developing the statements used in this table is FEMA 310 “Handbook for the Seismic Evaluation of Buildings-A Pre-standard”, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C., 1998.

The total width of door and window openings in a wall is: For brick masonry construction in cement mortar : less than ½ of the distance between the adjacent cross walls; For adobe masonry, stone masonry and brick masonry in mud mortar: less than 1/3 of the distance between the adjacent cross walls; For precast concrete wall structures: less than 3/4 of the length of a perimeter wall.

Structural/Architectural Feature Statement Seismic Resistance
Lateral load path The structure contains a complete load path for seismic force effects from any horizontal direction that serves to transfer inertial forces from the building to the foundation. TRUE
Building Configuration-Vertical The building is regular with regards to the elevation. (Specify in 5.4.1) TRUE
Building Configuration-Horizontal The building is regular with regards to the plan. (Specify in 5.4.2) TRUE
Roof Construction The roof diaphragm is considered to be rigid and it is expected that the roof structure will maintain its integrity, i.e. shape and form, during an earthquake of intensity expected in this area. TRUE
Floor Construction The floor diaphragm(s) are considered to be rigid and it is expected that the floor structure(s) will maintain its integrity during an earthquake of intensity expected in this area. FALSE
Foundation Performance There is no evidence of excessive foundation movement (e.g. settlement) that would affect the integrity or performance of the structure in an earthquake. FALSE
Wall and Frame Structures-Redundancy The number of lines of walls or frames in each principal direction is greater than or equal to 2. FALSE
Wall Proportions Height-to-thickness ratio of the shear walls at each floor level is: Less than 25 (concrete walls); Less than 30 (reinforced masonry walls); Less than 13 (unreinforced masonry walls); FALSE
Foundation-Wall Connection Vertical load-bearing elements (columns, walls) are attached to the foundations; concrete columns and walls are doweled into the foundation. TRUE
Wall-Roof Connections Exterior walls are anchored for out-of-plane seismic effects at each diaphragm level with metal anchors or straps. TRUE
Wall Openings TRUE
Quality of Building Materials Quality of building materials is considered to be adequate per the requirements of national codes and standards (an estimate). TRUE
Quality of Workmanship Quality of workmanship (based on visual inspection of a few typical buildings) is considered to be good (per local construction standards). TRUE
Maintenance Buildings of this type are generally well maintained and there are no visible signs of deterioration of building elements (concrete, steel, timber). FALSE

Additional comments on structural and architectural features for seismic resistance:

Vertical irregularities typically found in this construction type: No irregularities

Horizontal irregularities typically found in this construction type: No irregularities

Seismic deficiency in walls:

Earthquake-resilient features in walls: Light weight bearing structures

Seismic deficiency in frames:

Earthquake-resilient features in frame:

Seismic deficiency in roof and floors:

Earthquake resilient features in roof and floors:

Seismic deficiency in foundation:

Earthquake-resilient features in foundation:

Seismic Vulnerability Rating

For information about how seismic vulnerability ratings were selected see the Seismic Vulnerability Guidelines

High vulnerabilty Medium vulnerability Low vulnerability
Seismic vulnerability class |- o

Additional comments section 5:

6. Retrofit Information

Description of Seismic Strengthening Provisions

Structural Deficiency Seismic Strengthening

Additional comments on seismic strengthening provisions:

Has seismic strengthening described in the above table been performed? N/A

Was the work done as a mitigation effort on an undamaged building or as a repair following earthquake damages? N/A

Was the construction inspected in the same manner as new construction? N/A

Who performed the construction: a contractor or owner/user? Was an architect or engineer involved? N/A

What has been the performance of retrofitted buildings of this type in subsequent earthquakes? N/A

Additional comments section 6:

7. References

  • Seismic Hazard and Buildings Vulnerability in Post-Soviet Central Asia Republics. Nato Series.Netherland.
  • Buildings and Constructions Desing in Seismic Regions. Handbook.Bishkek.1996.


Name Title Affiliation Location Email
Ulugbek T. Begaliev Head of Department KNIIPC Vost Prom Zone Cholponatisky 2, Bishkek 720571 Kyrgyz Republic utbegaliev@yahoo.com
Svetlana Uranova Dr., Head of the Laboratory KRSU Kievskai 44, Bishkek 720000 Kyrgyz Republic uransv@yahoo.com


Name Title Affiliation Location Email
Marjorie Greene Special Projects Manager Earthquake Engineering Research Institute 499 14th St. Oakland, CA 94612-1934 mgreene@eeri.org
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