Today I touched down in Taipei. It immediately becomes clear to me that this is a city of millions. Millions of people, trillions of cars, and even more bright and flickering neon signs. Countless sorts of dumplings. And skyscrapers, tons of skyscrapers. And the mightiest of them all, the Taipei 101, is from where you can see all those millions minimized in one small picture. The Taipei 101 is a magnificent piece of construction design that multiple records from the start.
Spotify tip while reading this post: Lifted by Birdy
With 508 meters of tall presence, the Taipei 101 was the tallest place where you could live between 2004 and 2010. Now it’s the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Frankly, I couldn’t tell the difference between 400 and 500, at one point it’s just unencompassable. You are standing 500 meters from the ground, half a kilometer into the sky. When the realization hits that you’re not seeing this bird’s view from an airplane but from an actual building, you know you have reached a new, ahum, height in your life. I did this, one of the tallest buildings on our planet. Check!
Fastest elevator on earth
Record number two: the Taipei 101 has the fastest elevator in the world and this one still stands. As I feel nothing much, I am skyrocketed from ground level to 500 meters in just 37 seconds. The display barely keeps track of the numbers. My ears pop, but there’s no crazy G-force pulling my weight, incredibly. Though when I go back down later, I feel my weight lifted as we fly down. Great opportunity if you’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to have a model’s weight. You get 37 seconds to experience it.
What is inside Taipei 101?
Upstairs, it’s a true tourist attraction. I know there are restaurants on one of the highest floors. There’s a mysterious VIP club on the top floor that extraordinary people are invited to. And there’s the highest Starbucks in the world. None of which I have seen, because your ticket just takes you to the viewing decks. The view is impressive, the tourist trap amusing. If you love jade, amber, amethyst, and coral, this is your spot. And the things they do with it…!! I mean: monkey with coconuts on a horse in shiny pink stone of a meter tall, anyone? So that’s what’s on the top floors.
Food and shopping
Funny thing that the building is divided in sections, each for another target group. As a tourist you start upstairs, obviously. Then for many, many floors, it’s purely residential. Then there is an impressive space for all the luxury brands you know: Dior, Chanel, and friends. The greatest spenders are the ones invited to the VIP deck, you get the picture. But the more you descend, the more affordable the stores become. On the ground floor you find stores like Zara, Nine West, and some local boutiques.
Yet, all these groups unite for one big love below the surface level: food baby! There is a gigantic food court with everything you could wish for. And boy, did I have a satisfying first Taiwanese taste of the Taiwanese kitchen! Noodles and seaweed in soy sauce with two kinds of fried snacks on the side for nothing more than € 3,66 (TWD 127). So tasty even though it’s so simple. Love on first sight!
All of the above in one immense skyscraper, a world apart. The architecture outstanding for its kind, because if you are aware that Taiwan is right on top of a tectonic crack and deals with regular earthquakes (I am praying it doesn’t happen while I’m here), you wonder HOW does a building like the Taipei 101 can be a smart idea?! Breath in and breath out, because borrowing from far developed knowledge in Japan, where earthquakes are just as big an enemy, the Taipei 101 has balls. Literally. There is a giant ball of weight hanging on thick ropes in the top of the building, open for the public to see. This is called the damper. This is where they counterbalance any movements underneath the surface of the building. It also protects from the destructive whirlwinds during the yearly typhoon season. You can see the damper at work in this youtube video filmed at the time that the earthquake of Sichuan was felt in Taipei: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYSgd1XSZXc. Clearly visible, but nothing the matter.
How strong and earthquake resistant the Taipei 101 is, was proven during the earthquake of 2002. Even though the strength of the event was 6,8 on the scale of Richter and the city was shaking on its grounds, the Taipei 101 stood firm. It was still under construction and two cranes fell from the top of the building, but the structure didn’t show cracks. You can see it happen in the news of that year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZNTaH2-oE0.
Tallest green building
Last but not least important, I love the Taipei 101 for its third broken record of being the greenest tall building on earth. It’s biggest success is that it uses rain water from the roof for around 20 % to 30 % of the water supply inside the building. Knowing how much is inside that building, that deserves respect!