Innovative Earthquake-Resistant Designs Feature In This Japanese Competition

earthquake-resistant design competition in japan
Image: YouTube / 1101yasuhiro

Japan, the land of the rising sun, is also the land of frequent natural calamities. Being an island nation, it is prone to dangers such as tsunamis, tornadoes, and earthquakes. For that matter, Japan has a necessity to build structures with regard to these risks.

When it comes to conceiving earthquake-resistant building designs, one of the ways Japan uses truly stands out. In Kumamoto city, Sojo University’s architecture department annually holds a competition to determine the most tremor-resistant structure.

This unique event incentivizes university students to come up with creative solutions to the perennial threat of earthquakes in Japan. Here’s a video showing glimpses of this intriguing competition.

Japan’s one-of-a-kind contest for earthquake-resistant designs

Since 2011, Sojo University has held a rather interesting competition, the Toothpick Tower Seismic Contest. This event invites students to submit their toothpick structures that can withstand violent vibrations. While it started as an inter-university event, Sojo University has since held similar events in high schools as well.

Besides toothpicks, the only other item allowed for students to use is wood glue. In addition to this rule, there are dimension restrictions that say the height of the tower shouldn’t exceed 50cm, whereas its weight should be under 65g.

tower competition structure collapse
A structure collapses during the Toothpick Tower Seismic Contest. (Image: YouTube / 1101yasuhiro)

Before the competition begins, each participating structure is fixed to a wooden board that acts as a base. Then, weights are added on top of the miniature. Once the table starts shaking violently, the mini towers start to collapse one after another. The final remaining structure qualifies as the winner and earns the prize.

In a recent edition, the winning team received a PlayStation 5 gaming console for their efforts. In doing so, the competition not just rewards the creative genius of students but also produces new designs for earthquake-resistant architecture.

What do you think of this smart way to conjure up durable building designs? Tell us in the comments below. Also, make sure to check out the earthquake safety bed, a concept from Dahir Insaat.

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