The recent earthquakes in Turkey have once again highlighted the vital importance of building codes for disaster preparedness. As someone who has spent decades working in the architectural design industry, I can state that they are absolutely essential for ensuring the safety of communities in disaster-prone regions.

Building codes are regulations that govern the design, construction, and occupancy of buildings. They cover everything from structural safety to fire safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency. In earthquake-prone regions like Turkey, building codes are particularly important because they help to ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to be disaster-resistant.

The recent earthquakes in Turkey have shown that building codes can make a significant difference in the aftermath of a seismic event. In areas where buildings were constructed to modern seismic design codes, the damage was generally less severe, and the risk to life was reduced. However, in areas where older buildings were not built to modern standards, the consequences were much more severe, with many buildings collapsing and causing significant loss of life.

People and rescue teams try to reach trapped residents inside collapsed buildings in Adana, Turkey, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.


For example, modern building codes can require buildings to be constructed with structural components and materials that are more resistant to the shaking caused by earthquakes. This can include elements such as reinforced concrete, steel framing, and specially designed foundation systems. The codes can also require buildings to be designed to withstand specific levels of ground acceleration, which is the amount of rapid lateral movement that occurs during an earthquake.

Mudslides Destroying a House (Photo Credits:

With the stark images of destruction before us, it is clear that building codes are not simply a matter of bureaucracy, but are vital tools in ensuring the safety of communities in earthquake-prone regions. As a construction industry professional, I know that they can sometimes be seen as an unnecessary burden on developers and builders. However, as the recent earthquakes in Turkey, mudslides in Brazil, and hurricanes in Florida have shown, the consequences of not having and implementing strong building codes can be devastating. In some cases, a single house built to modern standards can be seen standing surrounded by masses of poorly designed and constructed buildings that have been razed.

Building codes are essential for ensuring the safety of not just communities in earthquake-prone regions such as Turkey, but are essential for disaster preparedness. It is important that governments and communities enact good building codes and ensure that they are enforced and regularly updated to reflect the latest scientific knowledge. As someone who has spent their career in the building design industry, please be aware that building codes are not something to be taken lightly. They are a critical aspect of ensuring the safety of our communities. As the success (or failure) of buildings around the world has demonstrated, conformance to well-written building codes can often make the difference between life and death.

Ross Cann, RA, AIA, LEED AP, is an author, historian, and practicing architect living and working in Newport, RI. He holds degrees with honor in Architecture from Yale, Cambridge, and Columbia Universities.

At A4 Architecture + Planning we are expert at integrating building codes into our designs to provide safer and more long-lasting building solutions for our clients. If you are interested in learning more about what can do for you reach out to us at any time!