Standing Up to Quakes
CHALLENGE: EARTHQUAKES LOCATION: TOKYO, JAPAN
Perched on one of the most seismically active tectonic-plate junctions, Japan registers more than 1,500 earthquakes every year. Architects there have pioneered new engineering standards to stabilize even skyscrapers. For example, Mori Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo, contains
192 oil-filled shock absorbers throughout its 54-story structure. A sensor inside these steel dampers detects small shudders and controls the flow of the fluid; when an earthquake is detected, the dampers slosh a thick oil in the opposite direction to counterbalance the tremor. The Japanese continue to push seismic technology’s boundaries, engineering dampers out of everything from isolation bearings to high-tensile carbon fiber.