Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Future of Building Demolition

I feel sorry for civil engineers who end up working on buildings. They spend years creating the perfect structure only for future generations to decide it's not good enough and tear it down to start from scratch. The problem is, how do you disassemble a building? Certainly the most common way is with a heap load of explosives however this can prove to be rather risky and dangerous as many Youtube fail videos have proven.

The future is upon us however as a Japanese construction firm, the Taisei Corporation, has decided that they will demolish their buildings one floor at a time, as is happening with the ex-Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka. According to NewScientist the whole affair has been designed to be as ecologically friendly as possible.

The process involves lowering the roof into the building via the use of jacks as each of the floors are taken apart one by one, allowing for many of the building's construction resources to be recycled. As the fragments of each floor are lowered to the ground via cranes, they generate electricity allowing for the company to cut back on an estimated 85% of CO2 emissions that would have otherwise been produced by oil and gas driven motors. They've even thought of a way to prevent dust particles from entering the surrounding air by covering the top floors in a protective jacket.

The drawback is that the process itself appears to be fairly time consuming, with the 140m tall building expected to be fully gone by May this year, though it could be argued that this is a fair compromise based on the reduced environmental implications the method imposes.

It all looks pretty good in practice but there's no mention of the financial benefits. One would assume on one hand, that this method would be cheaper based on the reduced power need and the fact they can reuse as much of the original building as possible but on the other hand the time needed for this method would also increase labor costs.

So is this the future? It's certainly an appealing alternative and a pretty neat idea but it does lack the thrill of watching an explosion take the building out.

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