July 31, 2002
Geologists fear the weight of the world’s tallest building may have transformed a stable area into one susceptible to seismic activity. But compared with dams, they say, buildings such as Taipei 101 are mere pinpricks on the Earth’s surface.
Taipei 101 is a building with a lot to boast about. Standing 508 metres (1,667ft) high, it is the world’s tallest. And at 700,000 tonnes, it must be among the heaviest. But the sheer size of the Taiwan skyscraper has raised unexpected concerns that may have far-reaching implications for the construction of other buildings and man-made megastructures. Taipei 101 is thought to have triggered two recent earthquakes because of the stress that it exerts on the ground beneath it. According to the geologist Cheng Horng Lin, from the National Taiwan Normal University, the stress from the skyscraper may have reopened an ancient earthquake fault. If he is right, then it raises concerns about proposals such as Sky City 1000 in Japan, the vertical city that has been proposed to solve Tokyo’s housing problems. And it is not just skyscrapers that are a problem.