Typhoons, or hurricanes for folks in the U.S., are capable of incredible destruction. We’ve all seen footage of these monster storms ripping houses off their foundations. But, what happens when a strong typhoon hits an area home to one of the tallest buildings in the world?
New footage shows how Taipei 101, the sixth tallest building in the world at 1,667 feet, fared during the brunt of the deadly storm.
What you’re looking at below is called a mass damper.
In Taipei 101’s case, it’s a tuned mass damper. You see how it moves around in the video above? That movement counteracts movements in the building caused by strong wind gusts.
As strong winds (or earthquakes) impact Taipei 101, the upper floors receive the brunt of the lateral movement. That’s where mass dampers come into play. They are designed to offset this movement in the upper floors. Dampers don’t stop the swaying, but they do control it.
The tuned mass damper is designed to withstand wind gusts of 134 mph. Wind gusts peaked at around 130 mph as Typhoon Soudelier swept across Taiwan last week.
The footage above doesn’t put into context how massive these mass dampers are. That sphere is made up of 41 circular steel plates, each nearly five inches thick. They’re welded together to form an 18 ft diameter sphere, which is suspended between the 87th and 92nd floor.
On August 8, Typhoon Soudelor caused the damper to move one meter – a new record. You’re seeing exactly how much movement was happening on the upper floors of Taipei 101. Man, my palms are sweating just thinking about it.
Tuned mass dampers are used across the world on a variety of buildings and structures. Did you know the Grand Canyon Skywalk uses three of them? They’re not quite as big as the one in Taipei 101. The dampers installed on the Skywalk help reduce vibrations as people walk across it.