The World Housing Encyclopedia (WHE) Report Database contains 130 reports on housing construction types in 43 seismically active countries. Each housing report is a detailed description of a housing type in a particular country. The description is prepared from a number of standard closed-ended questions and some narrative that have been provided by report authors. Each report has five major categories including architectural and structural features; Building Materials and Construction Process; Socio-economic Issues; Past Performance In Earthquakes, Seismic Features and Vulnerability; and Retrofit. All of the housing reports in this database have been contributed by volunteers. If you are interested in writing a housing report please contact the WHE Editorial Board.


The World Housing Encyclopedia (WHE) is a collection of resources related to housing construction practices in the seismically active areas of the world. The mission is to share experiences with different construction types and encourage the use of earthquake-resistant technologies worldwide. The technical activities of the WHE are steered by an international team of 22 professionals specializing in different aspects of seismic safety of buildings and structures. They bring relevant experience from 16 seismically active countries across the world. For more information about the World Housing Encyclopedia, visit

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.

This type of building is the national traditional dwelling of ...

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





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


Building Materials and Construction 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


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





Past Earthquakes in the country which affected buildings of this type

YearEarthquake Epicenter Richter Magnitude Maximum Intensity

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 pathThe 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-VerticalThe building is regular with regards to the elevation. (Specify in 5.4.1)TRUE
Building Configuration-HorizontalThe building is regular with regards to the plan. (Specify in 5.4.2)TRUE
Roof ConstructionThe 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 ConstructionThe 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 PerformanceThere 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-RedundancyThe number of lines of walls or frames in each principal direction is greater than or equal to 2.FALSE
Wall ProportionsHeight-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 ConnectionVertical load-bearing elements (columns, walls) are attached to the foundations; concrete columns and walls are doweled into the foundation.TRUE
Wall-Roof ConnectionsExterior walls are anchored for out-of-plane seismic effects at each diaphragm level with metal anchors or straps. TRUE
Wall OpeningsTRUE
Quality of Building MaterialsQuality of building materials is considered to be adequate per the requirements of national codes and standards (an estimate). TRUE
Quality of WorkmanshipQuality of workmanship (based on visual inspection of a few typical buildings) is considered to be good (per local construction standards).TRUE
MaintenanceBuildings 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 vulnerabilityLow vulnerability
Seismic vulnerability class |- o

Additional comments section 5

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



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
Svetlana Uranova Dr., Head of the Laboratory KRSU Kievskai 44, Bishkek 720000 Kyrgyz Republic


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