|The Tallest Skyscraper in Japan, Chalky
Soaring over "Minato Mirai 21", the redeveloped seafront area in Yokohama City, the 70-story, 296-meter (971-foot) Yokohama Landmark Tower is the tallest building in Japan as of May 1998. The building is also equipped with the world's fastest elevator with its maximum speed of 45 km/h (28m.p.h.).
There are many buildings taller than the Landmark Tower in other countries, but the most advanced techniques are required to build such a tall structure on the ground of Japan, a country shaken by as many as 1,000 sensible earthquakes a year. In Japan in early Meiji period (1868-1912), 2- to 3-story brick or stone buildings were built using technology introduced from Europe and America, but most of these buildings were destroyed by the M8.4 earthquake that struck Gifu and Aichi Prefectures in 1891. After the incident, earthquake-proof engineering became the focus of architecture.
In 1920, a law was enacted to limit the height of buildings to 31 meters (102 feet). Because the buildings built to this standard were not severely damaged by the M7.9 Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, the law remained until it was eventually repealed in 1965 due to a need to build higher in order to ease overconcentration in Tokyo. Just three years later in 1968, the 36-story, 147-meter (482-foot) Kasumigaseki Building was constructed in Tokyo as the country's first high-rise building.
In the 1970s and 80s, 200-meter (656-foot) class buildings were built one after another in Shinjuku and other areas in Tokyo. The 1990s has seen the construction of 200-meter (656-foot) class buildings not only in Tokyo, but in other cities including Osaka, Kobe, and the Makuhari district in Chiba, and even apartment buildings are often over 100 meters (382 feet) tall.
As for earthquake-resistant techniques, the Yokohama Landmark Tower has a flexible structure to absorb the force of earthquakes. The structure is theoretically the same as that of Japanese temples five-storied pagodas, which have never collapsed enduring series of earthquakes. It is interesting that the construction method of ultra-modern skyscrapers is similar to the techniques fostered in Japan's long history of wooden "high-rise" architecture, including the Daibutsuden of Todaiji Temple, which exceeds 40 meters (131 feet) in height, and the pagoda of Horyuji Temple, both of which were built in Nara in the 8th century.
Photo: Yokohama Landmark Tower (Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.).
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