The Asahi Shimbun reports that more and more companies are interested in fortifying their buildings with so-called menshin technology. Menshin involves placing shock absorbers in the foundations to mitigate the vibration accompanying earthquakes. Quite a bit of media attention was directed at the 18-story Sendai MT Building, which not only survived the March 11 earthquake in the largest city of the affected area, but made it through with minimal shaking, according to people who were in the building at the time. Sendaki MT Building is a commercial building run by Mori Trust, and it acted as a kind of makeshift refugee center for office workers who couldn’t get home the night of March 11. Though there were aftershocks all through the night, most people in the building said they didn’t feel them as much as they did in their own office buildings. After the quake, the building’s occupancy rate increased 20 percent and is now almost completely filled.
And it wasn’t just high-rises. The two-story distribution center for Suzuden Logistics in Matsudo is menshin-equipped. None of the goods stored in the building were damaged at all. Another menshin building is the Aizu Central Hospital in Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. Though it also underwent 5-plus shaking, the building suffered no damage and regular treatment continued normally. No in-patients had to be moved out or transferred.
The Asahi reports that, while menshin features add between 10 to 20 percent to the cost of construction, major contractors have seen inquiries into the system triple since March 11, and just as many are for factories and warehouses as they are for office buildings.