S B S Surendran lists feng shui and vastu tenets for earthquake-resistant structures.
Building a house in ancient times was not only a creative design approach but also a sacred process of putting it in place, brick by brick. The house was considered a living organism and its spirit called the ‘Vastu Purusha’. Feng shui calls it the chi or energy of the house. The different cardinal directions and sectors were classified based on different energies and elements and had a relationship to gods in vastu.
Earthquakes are common, but highly unpredictable. In the ancient scriptures of vastu science, earthquakes have been analysed and their causes and effects classified based on nature’s signals, which emanate as a forewarning prior to earthquakes. Feng shui, vastu science, modern structural designs and building science have detailed several methods to construct earthquake-resistant structures. It’s a common fact that only weak structures give away during earthquakes causing calamity and destruction. The science of vastu propagates creating strong, vibrant and stable structures which stand for centuries and withstand adverse circumstances and nature’s fury. Some of the vital factors to be considered in building an earthquake-resistant structure are:
- Building Configuration: The earthquake resistance of a structure is largely influenced by the configuration of the property in terms of geometrical shapes in plan, elevation, and location of structural elements and distribution of the mass of the building. Hence adapting regular configurations and uniformity would be beneficial.
- Plan And Elevation Shapes: The building with a uniform shape in elevation will avoid sudden changes in lateral stiffness along the height of the building. Buildings which are either top-heavy or enlarged are dangerous due to the high centre of gravity which could tilt the foundation during earthquakes.
- Building Design: Openings in walls in the form of doors, windows and ventilators should be of uniform size, shape and distance from corners. Avoid cut corners. Any extension or cut corners should be limited to 15-20 per cent of that particular side for better stability.
- Plot Soil And Vegetation: Examine the quality of the soil; ensure the ground is free of sludge, worms, ants and bones. Holes, charcoal, ash and husk weaken foundations and will not be good from an earthquake-resistance point of view.
- Cleansing And Purifying: Purify the land to ensure it is free of all negative forces and ill energies. Sprinkle rock salt in all the four corners of the property and add a nine-inch layer of pure sand before commencing construction. It should be chemically inert and preferably from a river or water source as this will provide elasticity to the foundation and will help in regaining equilibrium during earthquakes.
- Strong Foundation: Ensure that while laying the foundation, it is conical at its base and rectangular in its overall design. The foundation should be done continuously and water should not be allowed to stagnate during construction.
Earthquakes cannot be prevented and nature cannot be controlled, yet by integrating the science of vastu, we can create structures which are earthquake-resistant.