Earthquake, over the years, has destroyed many buildings and settlements. Today, as we learn new techniques to suit our lifestyle, we also work towards preventing the aftermaths of a disaster.

1. Fa- Bo building Japan

Clad in a seemingly ethereal web of carob fibers, the Fa-bo building in Ishikawa Prefecture Japan is the structural embodiment of the newfound principles of its conceiving architect. Rooted in an ideal of sound structural relief from the recurring environmental hazards Japan faces, the Fa-Bo building displays a shining example of revitalizing an existing structure while adding to its intrinsic beauty.

The Carbon fire draped around the structure was given an added flexibility with the inspiration of the locally found braided rope technique.

Being nearly 600 times stronger than iron, this is the first time the material performs as an earthquake reinforcement. But the structure shatters the ceilings of innovation in its interiors as well, be it the lightning duct on the rooftop or the porous ceramic rooftop garden,

The Fa-Bo building is truly one of its kind.

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2. The Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco

Anchored 15 m deep below the ground, the Trans-America Pyramid has a wide range of elegant technological solutions that allow it to survive the harshest blows of nature. With its unique steel truss system buried in the ground, the building moves with the horizontal forces of the Earth, minimizing any damage incurred to the structure.

Its form was derived to allow light to percolate down to the streets below. But the wide base of its pyramidal form also provides the frame with additional stability. 

The quartz clad structure proved the metal of its conscious design when it survived the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake, having swayed only for a minute before emerging intact. 

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3. Torre Reforma, Mexico city

Nestled along the main artery of Mexico City, the open-Book tower Torre Reforma was designed to move with the tremors that shake the lakebed foundations of the city.

Its triangular form contains a wide range of elegant structural solutions that allow the structure to stand tall throughout the harshest blows of nature. The two reinforced shear concrete walls hold the glass facade and have irregular gaps carved into them to allow the structure to bend and not crack. The walls also anchor the building at a depth of 60m below the ground while coupling beams assist in dissipating energy.

The facade contains concise crumple zones that allow them to shift during an earthquake. 

The groundbreaking design by L. Benjamin Romano is said to be designed to see through any earthquake over the next millennia.

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4. Sliced Porosity Block, Capital Land

Flaunting a form inspired by natural light percolation, The Sliced Porosity Block Forms amply lit public plazas with a plethora of hybridized functions. Apart from being a stellar example of earthquake architecture, the establishment also boasts a LEED Gold rating.

The precise geometric angles that splice into the white concrete exoskeleton of the structure come from the minimum sunlight exposure requirements the surrounding urban fabric prescribes. The building framework consists of six-meter-tall openings secured by earthquake diagonals.

Derived from poems of the City’s Greatest poet, the public plaza flows into three valleys. Iridescent water gardens on the three plaza levels mirror the concept of time while their ponds double as skylights to the shopping six-level prescient below. They also recycle rainwater and aid the 468 geothermal well that controls the temperature of the massive establishment. The high-performance glazing and energy-efficient equipment also reduce the carbon footprint of the structure. With its deep-rooted cultural endowment and pivotal role in weaving its urban fabric, The Sliced Porosity Block is truly a remarkable monument.

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5. Taipei 101, Taiwan

Concealed beneath a tapering pagoda-like form the Taipei 101 tower has many technological secrets that keep the building standing tall in its earthquake-prone home.

The giant steel pendulum, for instance, that sways with the throws of earthquakes and typhoons, acts as a counterbalance.  The 660-metric tonne and 5.5m wide ball is a tuned mass damper. It is suspended from the upper floors of the 508-meter tall tower and restricts its movement near a fault line.

The pagoda-inspired skyscraper boasts of a structural skeleton comprising eight concrete-filler mega columns and dozens of steel columns. Each foundation has been reinforced by driving hundreds of piles safely into the bedrock below.

Today, the structure stands as an architectural and structural marvel, with creators confident of its’ surviving even the strongest earthquakes over the next millennia.

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6. Koti Banal Architecture, India

When people use their knowledge of the surroundings and build in response to the Earth, they create a Vernacular language of Architecture. Such is the case of the Koti Banal Architecture of Uttarakhand, India.

This 900 year of practice of building is one of the finest specimens of earthquake-resistant design. Built using locally sourced materials, this age-old style of building uses simple scientific principles of force distribution to increase the longevity of the structures.

The 7-12 meter tall, five-stories structural framework consists of locally available wood. Raised stone platforms and shear wall packing vibrates in case of an earthquake preventing the timber frame from being affected by the throws of the Earth. 

Despite being a democratic answer to the structural needs of the land, mismanagement of resources and poor quality of the propagation of local knowledge has sadly led to the slow demise of this building tradition. Learning from our roots and returning to our traditional practices will soon be what will see us through our self-created Anthropocene.

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7. Yokohama landmark tower, Yokohama

Nestled in the Minato Mirai 21 district of the Yokohama city of Japan, the Yokohama Landmark Tower boasts of being one of the tallest buildings in Japan.

Standing at 972ft tall and boasting of a truncated form, the structure draws its inspiration from the ancient five-fold pagodas of Japan like its contemporary skyscrapers. The flexible structural design is placed on rollers that prevent its transverse displacement. The mass dampers, in turn, weigh the structure down and add to its flexibility.

Owing to its structural technology, the Yokohama tower absorbs the effects of the earthquake and is able to bend with the tremors without bucking under them.

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8. One Rincon Hill South Tower, San Francisco

Perched atop one of San Francisco’s seven hills, the One Rincon Hill, south tower is the taller of the two-tower residential complex.

Completed in 2014 and standing at 60-story tall, the condo tower is anchored safely through a massive 4-meter-thick pile-raft foundation embedded deep into the largely serpentine rock. The structural framing rests on a concrete core and steel-reinforced outriggers. The core and outriggers are attached to one another via diagonal, steel buckling-restrained braces. Carefully designed, these braces dissipate energy during earthquakes through controlled hysteric behavior and behave like shock absorbers.

Be it the state-of-the-art bracing mechanism or specially engineered tuned liquid dampers, the One Rincon Hill remains a pathbreaking achievement in the development of earthquake-resistant buildings.

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9. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo

The shining pinnacle of Tokyo city, the Tokyo sky tree is primarily a broadcasting tower standing at its full height of 634 meters and is one of the tallest buildings in the world, second only to the Burj Khalifa.

Inspired by the confluence of neo-futuristic design and the traditional beauty of Japanese culture, the Sky Tree symbolizes a catalyst for the revitalization of Tokyo. Along with its tripod-like base and pyramidal body, the Sky tree has been seismic-proofed by the addition of a modernized shamshir (a central pole that strengthened pagodas, an ancient Japanese earthquake technology). A hollow concrete tube runs throughout the tower and strengthens it along with the fuel dampers fastened to its sides (an accidental NASA invention).

Be it the way, it lights up the city or brings the world closer together. The Tokyo Skytree shoots for the stars in more ways than one. 

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10. Bhatar Architecture

A construction practice that unites geographically similar regions despite their national borders, Bhatar is a tradition of building that has been passed down through the centuries and is used extensively in Turkey, Afghanistan, India, and Nepal.

Developed from locally sourced timber and masonry units, the Bhatar style of building employs strategically located timber-ladder beams or Bhatar bands. The stone is dressed to incline toward the center of the 18″ thick walls and form interlocking bonds when subject to vertical loads. Both elements effectively dissipate energy during earthquakes with little to no structural harm. 

These charming and simple technologies are yet another proof that shows how the solutions to a sustainable future lie in our vernacular knowledge.

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References

Architizer. 2021. Sliced Porosity Block – CapitaLand Raffles City by Steven Holl Architects. [online] Available at: <https://architizer.com/projects/sliced-porosity-block-capitaland-raffles-city/> [Accessed 5 May 2021].

Boy, J., 2017. Case study: Torre Reforma, Mexico City. [online] Global.ctbuh.org. Available at: <https://global.ctbuh.org/resources/papers/download/3282-case-study-torre-reforma-mexico-city.pdf> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Cassidy, R., 2007. Solving Wind, Seismic Problems at One Rincon Hill. [online] Building Design + Construction. Available at: <https://www.bdcnetwork.com/solving-wind-seismic-problems-one-rincon-hill> [Accessed 5 May 2021].

Freda, K., 2021. Fa-bo: The Earthquake Resistent Office Grounded with Hundred of Carbon Fibres. [online] Spoon & Tamago – japanese art, design and culture. Available at: <https://www.spoon-tamago.com/2016/01/05/fa-bo-the-earthquake-resistent-office-grounded-with-hundred-of-carbon-fibres/> [Accessed 26 May 2021].

Iitk.ac.in. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.iitk.ac.in/nicee/readings/sharing.pdf> [Accessed 26 May 2021].

Minner, K., 2011. Seismic Architecture: Learning from the Japan Experience. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/119181/seismic-architecture-learning-from-the-japan-experience> [Accessed 5 May 2021].

Pierce, M., 2016. How NASA accidentally found a way to make buildings safer during earthquakes. [online] Quartz. Available at: <https://qz.com/621038/how-nasa-accidentally-found-a-way-to-make-buildings-safer-during-earthquakes/> [Accessed 26 May 2021].

Poon, D. and Joseph, L., 2004. [online] Global.ctbuh.org. Available at: <https://global.ctbuh.org/resources/papers/download/1650-structural-design-of-taipei-101-the-worlds-tallest-building.pdf> [Accessed 4 May 2021].

Dr Rautela, and Joshi, G., 2007. Earthquake Safe Koti Banal Architecture of Uttarakhand, India. https://dmmc.uk.gov.in/files/pdf/ragjari.pdf.

Traditional-is-modern.net. 2007. Build Back Better- Bhatar. [online] Available at: <https://www.traditional-is-modern.net/LIBRARY/PAKISTAN-reconstruct/07(06-29)DOWLING-Bhatar.pdf> [Accessed 5 May 2021].

Weiner, S., 2017. How Tokyo’s Skytree Uses Ancient Technology to Withstand Earthquakes. [online] Popular Mechanics. Available at: <https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a26488/tokyo-skytree-earthquakes/> [Accessed 5 May 2021].

Author

Shreya Joglekar is Currently an Architecture Student who up until her college life has shifted cities every other year. Having been Born Raised And Transferred all over the country, she loves to study and unravel the characters of the cities she lives in and the people she meets.

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