Taiwan

Here’s what’s stopping Taiwan’s tallest building from swaying (and how to see it)

Here’s what’s stopping Taiwan’s tallest building from swaying (and how to see it)


The first Portuguese to arrive in Taiwan called it “Formosa” for a reason. In Portuguese, “Formosa” means beautiful. Even today, everyone who has vacationed in Taiwan would agree with the original description. While much of this beauty is evenly distributed, Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei, still has most of the charm of the entire country’s magical display. It has an efficient transportation system, delicious food at famous night markets, century-old temples — and sky-grazing Taipei 101 — the focus of this article.

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One of the things that makes Taipei 101 such an architectural marvel is how it holds up in strong winds. Thanks to this masterpiece of architecture – unexpectedly seen by travellers – the building can hold its head in the high winds for which the country and the capital are sometimes famous. In this article, we reveal what keeps Taiwan’s tallest building from wobbling. We’ll also show travelers how to appreciate this piece of scientific genius.


This is what keeps skyscrapers like Taipei 101 from wobbling

By far the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 was, of course, a high-strung structure before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa came to spoil the party. It climbs to a dizzying 508.2 meters. That’s over half a kilometer. This height poses problems related to structural stability. Two factors pose significant structural risks. The first is gravity, which acts vertically. The other is wind, which, unlike gravity, acts horizontally. This may come as a surprise, but most tall buildings actually sway in the wind. This is similar to the rustling of tree branches during a storm. Supertall buildings like the Burj Khalifa can even move two meters. Obviously, depending on the height of the building, its headwind sway must be controlled.

This is what most engineers do: they simply strengthen their structures with tighter connections, especially at the points where horizontal beams connect to vertical columns. However, in some cases, especially for slightly taller structures, this reinforcement is not feasible. Instead, engineers build a strong core through the middle section, often consisting of steel trusses reinforced with diagonal beams. This is how structures like the Chrysler Building control the wind. It’s like making the whole building an indivisible whole.If there is vibration, then the whole structure affected almost equally — and not just in certain parts. But even this innovation can only go so far. In high winds, loose furniture and other items can be severely damaged.

related: Visit these 10 iconic and fascinating places in Taiwan.

This brings us to the methods Taipei 101 uses to control the wind.

How Taipei 101 uses dampers to stabilize itself in the wind

Taipei 101 uses tuned dampers to keep it steady in the sometimes gusty winds that blow through Taiwan. A damper, also known as a harmonic absorber, is a device that is fixed in various structures and is primarily used to limit or reduce mechanical vibrations. Dampers work differently in different structures. But that’s how dampers work in buildings. When used in buildings, dampers are basically giant concrete blocks. Sometimes they are not made of concrete, but steel or other metals. These giant blocks are designed to move in the opposite direction of the building’s sway. That’s how Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings, maintains its grandeur.

So when Taipei 101 wobbles two or three feet to the left due to strong winds, its tuned mass dampers will move to the right: the opposite direction. This has an overall offsetting effect, so the building doesn’t completely become a reed in the wind. U.S. buildings fitted with dampers include San Francisco’s Lincoln Hill South Tower as well as the Citigroup Center and Trump World Tower – both in New York.

related: Two weeks in Taiwan: Taipei to Taipei, the complete tour.

Why Taipei 101’s dampers are unique

That’s why. Generally, dampers in most buildings are invisible. Even at Taipei 101, the spire has dampers — hidden from view. However, the main damper of Taipei 101 is open for visitors to visit. In fact, it’s one of the reasons people visit Taiwan’s tallest building. This is not an afterthought. The designer made it visible on purpose. Today, the most famous damper in the world can be seen from all five floors it passes through. As a sign of its popularity and popularity, Taipei 101’s damper even has its own mascot. It’s called Damping Baby.

The damper is a huge yellow sphere suspended on eight steel cables and weighs an incredible 728 tons. All in all, Taipei 101’s dampers are worth a look. And the all-round views – from the summit of the building – will be an added bonus.



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