300-ton steel pendulums could be retrofitted to Shinjuku towers

In Other News - August 1st, 2013

With the much talked about ‘Big One’ due to hit Tokyo any time soon, skyscrapers in the capital are to be earthquake-proofed with 300-ton steel pendulums.

The brainchild of real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan and construction firm Kajima Corp., the seismic controlling device would be installed on rooftops of buildings and will apply force towards the opposite direction of “long period seismic motions,” acting as counterweight.

Although it will not prevent an earthquake, it will reportedly reduce the swaying caused by tremors by 60%.

The companies say they will spend about 5 billion yen ($51 million) to install six pendulums on top of the Shinjuku Mitsui Building in 2015.

The 55-story skyscraper, completed in 1974, swayed as much as 6 feet during the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

The Japanese government has warned that the Big One is coming for Tokyo and could be more damaging than the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan.

Tokyo was last struck 90 years ago, when the Great Kanto earthquake killed more than 100,000 people.

Buildings today are already equipped with vibration-reducing technologies but the strength of these pendulums is that they can be retrofitted on older structures without having to take up much space.

While Japan’s earthquake early-warning systems are the most advanced in the world, experts say tremors cannot be accurately predicted.

by Maesie Bertumen

Image: sylvar/Flickr