To be able to develop buildings that are earthquake proof nowadays a lot of time and effort is needed from architects and engineers. But there is already one country that has already been able to solve the puzzle on how to build structures that can survive such natural disaster. It isn’t a new technology, but an ancient one–around 2,500 years ago. Ancient Chinese builders needed a way to create wooden structures that shouldn’t be shaken apart, but also shouldn’t be too stiff that the support members would shatter. They were then able to create a bracket system called “dougong”.
Source: Core 77
When these designed wooden brackets are interlocked together, it can transfer the incredibly heavy weight of a temple roof to the supporting columns. It had so many redundancies that it couldn’t be shaken apart.
By spreading the tolerances over multiple joints, the structure can contain a measure of flexibility that prevents it from cracking and splitting.
Here is a short video of a modern day architect demonstrating how dougong works by using a scale model. It will give you an idea on how the joint fit together.
Souce: YouTube, Katie Chiu
What makes this construction so amazing is that with this system,the columns are not anchored or sunken into the foundation. They are free-standing, and still stay in place during the shake test.
Who would have thought that such an ancient technique existed. Unfortunately, most structures nowadays aren’t purely made of wood anymore. But imagine if engineers will be able to use the physics of this ancient technique to create a new method of building structures that will pave the way for earthquake-proof buildings.