Tokyo Skytree, which at 634 meters is the world's tallest free-standing tower, is a marvel of new technologies and design approaches.
As such, the companies that are responsible for this stunning structure in the capital's Sumida Ward are hoping to capitalize on their innovations to create business opportunities.
The Tokyo Skytree not only boasts cutting-edge structural technology to protect it against earthquakes and super-strong winds, but also state-of-the-art touches to impress even the most jaded visitor.
Its primary mission is as a transmission tower for digital terrestrial broadcasting, but observation decks offering panoramic views of the city, as well as a restaurant and cafes, combine to make it one of Tokyo's premier attractions.
Shopping malls, more restaurants, an aquarium and a planetarium are located at the base.
A central feature of the tower, which opened to the public May 22, is a system to control swaying. The technology, used for the first time, has been dubbed "shinbashira" after the central pillar found in traditional five-story pagodas.
The technology was developed by Nikken Sekkei Ltd. and Obayashi Corp.
The 375-meter-long, steel-reinforced concrete shinbashira is not directly connected to the tower itself and is designed to cancel out the swaying of the needle-like tower during an earthquake.
According to an official with Nikken Sekkei, which designed the structure, the concept was developed on the basis that pagodas rarely topple during earthquakes.
In addition to controlling swaying, the interior of the shinbashira at the Tokyo Skytree contains an emergency stairwell.
Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. manufactured the high-speed elevator that takes visitors to the first observation deck at 350 meters in a mere 50 seconds or so. Ascending and descending at 36 kph is about 10 times faster than elevators ordinarily used in condominiums, making it the fastest now in use in Japan for those that can carry 40 people or a similarly large number.
A key concern was ensuring a comfortable ride by reducing shaking as the elevator whizzes up and down. This was partly achieved by keeping the difference at the joints of the rails used by the elevator to under 0.001 millimeter, or, as a company official said, "almost zero."
Wind resistance was also reduced by setting the upper and lower covering at a slight angle.
Officials of the companies involved in the creation of the Tokyo Skytree expect the technologies developed especially for the project to translate into greater sales and profits.
"If a similar transmission tower was to be built, the technology could likely be applied anywhere in the world," said an official with Nikken Sekkei, referring to the shinbashira technology.
Hitachi Cable Ltd. provided the antenna tower that holds digital terrestrial broadcasting antennas and is positioned from about 500 meters above ground.
"It is a huge achievement to install an antenna at such a height and capable of withstanding strong winds," said a company official. "It will be an advantage for us as we seek out new orders in the future."
A streamlined antenna was designed to allow it to be able to withstand maximum winds of 396 kph that could strike once in about 1,300 years.
Some 40,000 tons of super-reinforced steel, with the largest amount supplied by JFE Steel Corp., was used in the tower's construction.
"The most advanced technology in the world was used to build the tower," a JFE Steel official noted.
But that is not necessarily a blessing.
"We have not yet obtained an order for a similar level (of steel) because the specifications were so exacting," the official said.
An official with Nippon Steel Corp. said, "We had anticipated receiving orders from Dubai, where there are many tower construction projects, but so far we have not yet received any."
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