Taipei 101 Damper Babies are a cute toy and a functional lifesaver. And they tell you a lot about creative Taiwan.
During our recent Asia tour, we made several stops in Taiwan. Most interesting was Taipei, the modern capital city. No surprises here. This is a very westernized city with three million population.
Pretty much obligatory are visits to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and, especially, the National Taiwan Museum. The CKS Memorial Hall was surprisingly interesting, with lots of memorabilia, period furnishings and automobiles. Even more attractive is the National Taiwan Museum, where you could spend many days studying the exhibits and history of the region. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours.
And then, the Taipei 101 Damper Babies. What say? Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building between 2004-2010. As you approach your tour of this 101 story landmark, you are surrounded by “damper babies”, the toy shown left in the picture above. Gimmick? Yes, but a functional one.
Many tall buildings contain Tuned Mass Dampers. The TMD is a heavy pendulum that sways to offset the effect of building movement caused by ground tremors or, more often, high winds. Since Taipei 101 is very tall, and is build in an earthquake and typhoon zone, it has a tuned mass damper between the 87-92 floors.
What distinguishes Taipei 101 Damper Babies is that they opened the device up for viewing and created the “damper babies” promotion, even cartoons.
By the way, the elevator in Taipei 101 travels at 61 km/h, which used to be the fastest in the world. Recently it was superseded at 74 km/h at the Shanghai Tower. We experienced both.
Taipei 101 Damper Babies – The Canadian Connection
The tuned mass damper in this building was designed by a Canadian firm, RDWI in Guelph Ontario. It specializes in wind engineering and is a world leader in skyscraper testing. RDWI TMD are installed all over the world.
Remember Formosa? I remember maps when I was a kid referred to Taiwan by this name, which was created by Dutch explorers in the 16th century and means “beautiful island”. Taiwan dates from the 17th century and has become the norm.
Both Taiwan and South Korea are technology and manufacturing giants. Taiwan was pretty much as I expected. South Korea provided the surprises. More on that soon.