After 37s the doors of the once fastest elevator in the world (surpassed in 2016) opened and everyone rushed out to see the city from the 89th floor. Everyone that is, except for me.
By now I’ve seen enough cities from the sky; what I was here for was INSIDE the building.
Suspended between floors 87 and 91 and accessible from the 88th floor it’s the only publicly visible one of its type in the world, it took four teams of Engineers across four countries to design it, and it took building construction to a new height (pun indented).
Welcome to Taipei 101’s 728-Ton Super Big Wind Damper (…as the brochures put it, I guess it just sounds better than Tuned Spring Mass Damper). And isn’t she a beauty!
The Great Glass Elevator
Well to see the Super Big Wind Damper the first thing you’ll be seeing is the elevator; so we should probably start their. It’s high-speed pressurised and able to make the 5th to 89th floor traverse in 37s reaching a staggering 1,010m/min on the ascent. That’s 60.6km/hr – How fasts yours Willy!
During the ride up an LCD shows your position and the all important statistics.
The Super Big Wind Damper
Nope, lets start that one again.
The Super Big Tuned Spring Mass Damper
Ok put on your propeller hat and strap yourself in for some FUN because we’re gonna see how this thing works!
In strong wind the upper levels of the building will start to sway back-and forth, and during this movement the spring-dampers (shock absorbers) connecting the ball to the building compress against the ball (you can see them connected just below the centre line).
Initially the inertia (resistance to movement) of the ball due to its mass (the effect of gravity pulling down on the balls weight) will try to hold the ball stationary whilst absorbing the buildings vibrational movement in the dampers until the energy absorbed becomes greater than the inertia of the ball. At which point the ball will start to move (even if only microscopically).
Once the ball does start to move however the spring-mass system is tuned (the stiffness of the springs and the mass of the ball are carefully designed such that the ball will move in a calculated manner) such that the movement then opposes the vibration (swaying) of the building. The ball and building then vibrate (sway back and forward) against each other cancelling each other out and dissipating the buildings vibrational energy – the dampening.
Don’t Stand Too Close
Right o, enough physics, lets see a video of it in action.
A Room with a View
After much much longer than the average person probably spends looking at a giant gold ball I did return to the 89th floor to go look out the window from 383.4meters, that was nice to.
I then ventured up to the 91st floor for the 391.8 meter outdoor observatory to look up at the 508m spire.
A View of A Room
After (again much much longer than the average person spends in the building) I headed up to Elephant Mountain for sunset, similarly nice.
And the following day having the weather cleared more I had just enough time to visit Elephant Mountain once again before I said goodbye to Taipei.
Once the highest building in the world (2004-2010), Taipei 101 is an Engineering masterpiece, and even if you couldn’t care less about a giant ball suspended 390 meters into the sky, it does offer pretty nice views too.
But make no mistake, whilst I enjoyed Taiwan and would recommend it to anyone; were it not for 101 it (Taiwan) would probably still be in the to-do column.