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Chinese skyscrapers pose high risk to public safety

ANI | Updated: May 26, 2021 15:39 IST


Beijing [China], May 26 (ANI): One of the Chinese high-rise building in SEG Plaza started to tremble last week posing hish risk to public safety that has led to waning of Beijing's enthusiasm for skyscrapers.
A 75-story, 170,000-square-meter office tower in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, which stands 355 meters and is taller than New York's Chrysler Building, found itself on shaky ground as the movement of trembling was visible from several blocks away, reported Asia Times.
Fears that the walls may come down in the tower, which was completed in 1999, prompted thousands of tenants to run for the exits in a scene reminiscent of a disaster film.
The Shenzhen authorities blamed the wind, temperature changes and two rumbling subway lines beneath the building for the movement.
However, the SEG Plaza continued to shake in the following days, even after a hastily convened panel of experts gave it a quick all-clear and told tenants they could move back in. Their only advice was to install tuned mass dampers - also called harmonic absorbers - on the high floors to reduce the vibrations, reported Asia Times.
Meanwhile, America's Consulate-General in Guangzhou, whose jurisdiction covers Shenzhen, lost no time in issuing a safety advisory at the weekend, urging its citizens not to enter the towering landmark that usually appeared in shots for Shenzhen in Chinese movies.
As concerns about the safety of SEG Plaza and other buildings mount, Beijing has moved to slow its race to build towers to giddy heights as symbols of economic development.

Frank Chen, writing in Asia Times said that Shenzhen authorities scramble to investigate trembling SEG Plaza as official enthusiasm for skyscrapers wanes.
Top Chinese government policymakers ordered a ban on new projects taller than 500 meters in May 2020, as outlined in a document from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. A slew of shovel-ready projects was cancelled or had their designs cut short as a result.
Xinhua reported back then that Beijing had long realized that high-rises could be expensive to build and maintain and they would consume too much energy and even pose rising risks to public safety.
In March, as part of broader policies to tame widespread realty speculation, the ministry halted its new project approval of buildings taller than 18 floors in lower-tier cities and counties. This came after the construction spree had spread from key urban centers into smaller towns and rural areas, wrote Frank Chen.
Shenzhen is no stranger to swaying skyscrapers. In 2018, when super typhoon Mangkhut battered the city, its 600-meter Ping An Finance Center, the world's fourth-tallest, also swung visibly, causing some of its glass facade panels to break. The city said the building sustained no damage to its structure during the storm.
Land-starved Shenzhen has 145 buildings higher than 200 meters. Some adopted designs similar to that of SEG Plaza, with construction in some cases reputedly rushed, reported Asia Times.
In the past 15 years, China has erected more high-rise towers than in the past half a century but now the bustling city of Shenzhen is ringing alarms about the building spree.
The world's second-largest economy is home to 33 of the world's 75 buildings higher than 350 meters, according to a list compiled by Wikipedia. (ANI)

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