An innovative product that earthquake proofs buildings using ancient Japanese building techniques

Posted by Sean Carmichael on Jan 7, 2016 12:32:33 PM

One of the more vexing problems in modern construction is how to make buildings more earthquake proof. Since more construction is taking place around the Pacific Rim, where earthquakes tend to take place, finding answers has become vital.

As it turns out, one solution can be found in pre-modern Japanese building, according to Gizmodo. It seems that those picturesque, tall pagodas that dot the landscape in Japan have a central wooden pillar that dampens the shaking effects of earthquakes, in which floors move from side to side and then transmit that energy into the ground.

Taking that idea into the 21st century, builders have developed an innovative product product called Cross-Laminated Timber, or CLT. CLT is a type of timber that sandwiches layers of wood that move in opposite directions. This creates a type of timber that is much stronger than the sums of its parts.

The initial idea of using CLT to construct buildings that are seven to 15 stories tall is that it is more environmentally friendly to produce than steel. However, builders began to realize that using CLT made buildings more resistant to earthquakes, as well. They are experimenting with using CLT reinforced with steel, combined with conventional lumber, to construct wooden buildings that resist the shaking motion inflicted by earthquakes and dissipate the energy much like the wooden pillars in the Japanese pagodas.

Researchers think that potential exists for using CLT to build high-rise buildings. If that happens, it will represent a modern take on the technology used by Japanese artisans centuries ago.

Topics: Innovation Insights, Challenges

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