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Taipei 101 is up to the minute when it comes to skyscraper design

13 January 2012 No Comment

If you worked in this building, you could never have the excuse of being late for work. Not only is this incredible $1.8bn skyscraper in Taiwan one of the largest and tallest green buildings in the world – it’s also a giant sundial.

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The innovative design of Taipei 101 means workers within the 1,667ft, 101-floor building always know what time it is, thanks to a circular park created at the foot of the tower which uses the shadow cast by the building to indicate hours.

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Towering with ancient symbolism

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But acting as one of the biggest sundials in the world isn’t the only quirky feature of Taipei 101. The work of architects C Y & Lee and Partners, it’s positively brimming with happy energy from its design foundations in feng shui philosophy and from the ground floor to the very top it’s towering with ancient symbolism.

Modern icon of Taiwan

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Take the number of floors for instance. One hundred – seen in Chinese culture as a number of perfection – just isn’t perfect enough. Adding the crucial extra floor – ‘going one better’ – symbolises high ideals and ambition. And to maximise good fortune for all workers and visitors, the tower is made up of eight segments – resembling the stacked appearance of an Asian pagoda – of eight floors each – eight being the number to represent abundance and prosperity.

Go from the 5th floor to the 89th-floor in only 37 seconds!

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But there’s no leisurely lift ride in this scraper – Taipei 101′s elevators whisk you from the fifth floor to the 89th-floor observatory in only 37 seconds. And don’t count on stopping at floor 44 – it doesn’t exist. Four is considered unlucky, so developers simply rejigged the numbers, adding in a floor ‘42A’ instead.

And the sundial feature wasn’t created just to keep workers on time – it actually represents continuous renewal. Within the building structure itself, suspended between the 92nd and 87th floor, there’s even a giant pendulum. But this one doesn’t tick – it’s a $4m tuned mass damper, which sways to offset movement in the building caused by strong winds.

Innovative steel construction

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But this is one building which won’t be shaken to the core by the demands of its environment, whether it’s earthquakes, typhoons or gusts of over 130mph. It’s one of the most stable buildings in the world thanks to its innovative steel construction. Thirty-six supporting columns packed with concrete, and giant trusses, link the exterior to the core every eight floors with the foundations stretching an amazing 30 metres below ground.

Awarded LEED Platinum certification

But peer behind the bamboo-coloured glass exterior and you’ll find green is at the heart of this building. Just last year Taipei 101 was awarded LEED Platinum certification, the highest award in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, thanks to innovations including a recycled water system which quenches almost a third of the building’s water needs and double-pane windows which block the sun’s rays by fifty percent.

Yet green isn’t the only colour which shines from this building. Every evening, the tower’s lights – designed to cast the building as a welcoming beacon – display one of seven colours in the spectrum, with each representing a day of the week.

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Timely icon of modern Taiwan

And just like the Opera House in Sydney, Times Square in New York and the Thames in London, it rings in the New Year with a spectacular, sequential fireworks display.

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There’s no doubt that Taipei 101 is truly a timely icon of modern Taiwan.

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