While small earthquakes are relatively common in Japan, the country is always preparing for the potential of a devastating large-scale event. As a result, curious, innovative technologies often emerge—the latest of which would install giant stabilizing pendulums atop skyscrapers. Developed by real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan Co. and general contractor Kajima Corp, the several hundred ton seismic control device could suppress vibrations and counter the effects of a potentially destructive earthquake.
The giant steel pendulums work by being hung on a building at rooftop level. In the event of an earthquake, they will apply force in the direction opposite of “long-period seismic motions,” halving the amplitude of vibrations.
The project will be unveiled on top of Shinjuku Mitsui Building, a 55-story skyscraper in Tokyo, in 2015 at a cost of $51 million. The trial system will feature six pendulums, each weighing 300 tons.
In 2011, the Shinjuku Mitsui Building experienced horizontal vibrations of about 2 meters during the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake, so the device could potentially save people from injury if it such an event was to happen again.
The system is also compatible with older buildings, meaning that all of the country’s skyscrapers could be retrofitted with protection from seismic damage.