How Engineers Used Ancient Techniques To Protect Tokyo’s Skytree From Earthquakes

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The 2,080-foot Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s second tallest structure, combines cutting edge technology and medieval methods to stand firm in the event of an earthquake.

image credit: Science Channel 

In designing Tokyo’s Skytree—a broadcasting tower, restaurant, and observation tower that’s the tallest tower in the world at 2,080 feet—special precautions needed to be taken to protect against Japan’s notorious earthquakes.

image credit: Science Channel 

Luckily, Japanese architects have dealt with these problems for millennia, and one of their most famous creations provided a solution.

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Pagodas, the towers with many stacked roofs, have a secret strength: a central pole called a shinbashira that diffuses seismic vibrations and keeps the whole thing from falling down. The architects of the Skytree used a similar technology to secure the structure—a central concrete tube runs almost the entire height of the tower.

This tube is fastened to the sides of the tower with fuel dampers, invented by NASA, which allows the tube to sway without hitting the sides of the tower. Now, the tower should be capable of withstanding the strongest possible earthquake Tokyo could face, and will reduce the vibrations from any seismic event by 50 percent.

VIAScience Channel
SOURCEpopularmechanic
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