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Safety Concern over Shanghai's Skyscrapers
2006-05-19 16:10:20
Amazing to tourists, the increasing number of modern skyscrapers in Shanghai is the pride of its citizens. However, recently, concerns have been raised about the strong and thus damaging winds that are result from the dense population of skyscrapers so central to the metropolis.

Experts say three business districts in Shanghai's downtown area are affected by the strong winds, with the Lujiazui financial zone in Pudong area being the most at risk of experiencing dangerous gusts.

According to statistics, Shanghai had the largest concentration of skyscrapers in the world in 2001. And, the number of skyscrapers in the city has grown considerably since then. Shanghai now boasts 2,000 buildings designated as "tall," with more than 140 of them towering above 100 meters.

Tian Wei, an architect from the Shanghai Architecture Association, says wind speeds increase greatly along narrow roads between high buildings, as wind currents often form mini whirlwinds around skyscrapers in densely developed areas.

"If attached high up on a building, some advertisements and decorations, if not well fixed, might be blown off and fall to harm people on the street. But what's more, strong winds are making the movement of both people and vehicles terribly inconvenient."

The expert says buildings higher than 150 meters are the most susceptible to the problem.

Moreover, since many have glass-curtain walls, if affected by too-strong winds, many of the skyscrapers in Shanghai could become quite dangerous.

In early 2005, the Shanghai municipal government identified skyscrapers as one of the biggest potential threats to the city.

Tian Wei says the potential problems surrounding skyscrapers can be reduced if their height is limited and the distance between them increased.

"In the past, the design of a building took into account its exterior and window directions. But now we should really start to think more about how the buildings surrounding us influence each other. And thanks to the growth in computer technology, we can now calculate, more precisely, the speed of the wind in a certain area."

As for the city's already-constructed skyscraper forest, the expert says more trees can be planted to block part of the winds. He says that the walls of the buildings should be fortified while notice signs are put up to signal potentially dangerous areas.

The State Construction Ministry is set to implement new regulations, specifying a series of new standards to evaluate "green"buildings at the beginning of next month. These will be China's first comprehensive set of standards for building construction.

For China Drive, I'm Chen Simeng, CRI News, Shanghai

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