Why Do Buildings Sway?

Skyscrapers are designed to withstand extreme weather and geological events such as high winds or earthquakes. Allowing for movement helps these tall buildings sway and alleviate wind pressure, minimizing any fall risk.

Why Do Buildings Sway?

Swaying of buildings has become an accepted phenomenon in the twenty-first century, but why exactly do building designs produce the swaying motion? It would seem counter-intuitive to purposely construct a building that can sway, but the reality is that careful design and engineering provide structures with enhanced stability and resistance to various external forces.

Much of the reason why buildings sway can be attributed to the vertical movement of the earth. Seismic activity is known to cause the earth to vibrate, and buildings can be vulnerable under the strain of such vibrations. This general ground shaking is transferred to the facilities, causing them to sway. The swaying motion also helps the building absorb the energy of these vibrations, protecting them from the potential damage they might otherwise create.

The sweeping motion of a swaying building can also be attributed to the airflow. Buildings are affected by wind due to their large aerodynamic surfaces. Air pressure differences on the opposite sides of the building increase the probability of swaying, even at low wind speeds. How air flows around the building is also a factor since certain arrangements may cause concentrated loads on specific areas, increasing the likelihood of the building swaying.

In addition to external forces such as

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