Taipei 101 tower
Case study

World’s smartest buildings: Taipei 101, Taiwan

Taiwan’s tallest building is also its greenest. The striking structure, resembling stacked pagodas towering over the city, was designed to represent the merging of traditional Asian culture and modern technology.

The building was designed by CY Lee & Partners Architects and contains offices, a shopping mall, restaurants, an observation deck, and one of the world’s fastest elevators.

The tower is owned by Taipei Financial Centre Corporation, and was originally to be called Taipei World Financial Centre, before being renamed after its 101-floored design.

The exterior comprises of 8, 8-story segments, as the number is thought to bring financial luck in Chinese culture. There are also large circular structures on each side that symbolise old Chinese coins.

Taipei Damper

The tower’s damper works like a pendulum to offset motion.

An earthquake-proof tall tower

Taiwan frequently experiences typhoon winds and earthquake tremors. At a height of 1,667 ft, and comprising of 101 overground and 5 underground floors, Taipei 101 presented a unique challenge to architects and engineers to make this supertall structure resistant to extreme weather.

The tower’s frame features 118,000 tons of steel members and connections, high strength concrete filler within key columns, and a complex deep foundation system. The foundation is reinforced by 380 piles at a depth of 262ft into the ground and 98ft into the bedrock.

In the core of the building, a 660 tonne damper hangs suspended from the 92nd to 87th floor that counteracts the effects of strong winds. The damper sways like a pendulum, and when the damper moves significantly it deflects the movement of the building around it, keeping the tower stationary. The damper sphere is thought to be the largest in the world, with a diameter of 18ft.

Developers also worked with the height of Taipei 101 to create one of the fastest elevators in the world. It travels at 37.7mph, transporting passengers from the 5th to 89th floor in 37 seconds.

Taipei 101 At Night

Environment-first technology

The blue-green hue and shape of the building resembles Taiwan’s indigenous bamboo plants. But this design element was created to be more than just aesthetically pleasing. Taipei 101’s double-paned green glass curtain walls are highly reflective and block solar heat gain by 50%.

In 2011 Taipei 101 was awarded “world’s tallest green building” by LEED, and it still holds on to this accolade. This was achieved after working with Siemens Building Technologies, who retrofitted the tower with its most advanced sustainability offerings. The Energy Monitoring and Control System regulates the cooling system, and has created annual savings of 2,995 tons in reduced CO2 emissions from electricity, gas and oil use.

As well as saving energy, the tower’s strategically placed air conditioning units monitor the level of CO2 within the building. If CO2 in the air surpasses a set level, the draw in air from outside of the building to improve the oxygen flow. As a result, the CO2 level in Taipei 101 is on average 600 parts ppm – significantly lower than Taiwan’s national standard of 1,000 ppm.

What can we learn from Taipei 101?

This Taiwanese tower was one of the first supertall buildings working towards sustainability before it became ‘cool’. The building’s owners have continued to build its environmental credentials and adopt the latest innovations. A building that fights the elements while also saving energy and improving workspace wellbeing is very smart indeed.

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