New Deconstruction Methods Replace Noisy And Toxic Building Demolition

Construction companies are developing green ways to disassemble empty buildings.

By Annette Barlow December 28, 2016

The internet is good for three things: remorseful binge shopping, cat memes, and oh-so-satisfying videos of buildings being razed to the ground. But as aesthetically pleasing as these demolitions are, they’re also fantastically destructive, toxic to their surrounding environments, and really rather noisy. Which is why some very clever engineering bods have developed a clean, safe, and even productive, way to dismantle unwanted buildings.

These new methods involve no dynamite and no bulldozing. Instead, deconstruction companies are starting to “unbuild” buildings, one level at a time, giving the impression to bystanders that—rather than the traditional kaboom and cloud of dust—the building is slowly shrinking until it disappears. These companies adopt one of two methods in their quest for a a cleaner, greener, and less intrusive method of deconstruction.

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The Taisei Ecological Reproduction—or Tecorep—system encloses the top floors of the building in an architectural shroud, providing both shelter and sound proofing for the duration of the demolition. A crane is then suspended from the top of the sheltered zone, and after each set of levels is disassembled, the columns and crane supporting the ceilings are lowered. This is then repeated until the final, ground floor has disappeared. Tokyo’s Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka was deconstructed in this way, and the accompanying Youtube video is just as pleasing as the blowing-up kind.

But more than providing internet enjoyment, this method is significantly better for the environment. Dust, oxide and silica particles are dramatically contained, disassembled materials can be effectively recycled, and energy is captured and re-used from the act of the demolition itself. How? Well, an electric conversion system turns the process of lowering materials (kinetic energy) to the ground into a source of power, which fuels the lights and equipment on the site.

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The other method works in a similar fashion, but is quite simply reversed. The niftily titled Cut and Take Down Method, which works from the bottom up, reduces demolition time, noise pollution, and makes it easier to recycle the site’s materials, as they don’t have to be bundled up and lowered to the ground, as with the Tecorep system.

So, you’re no doubt thinking this sounds too good to be true: There has to be a downside to this approach, right? Well, of course. As much good as they both do for protecting the environment and the quality of life of surrounding residents, both these systems are less time and cost-effective than traditional demolition methods. What they can do, however, is provide architects with crucial lessons on how to incorporate built-in demolition tools at construction point. Clever indeed.



Annette Barlow



Annette is freelance editor, sub-editor, journalist and proofreader with a fierce love of all things feminist, food and music. She is a regular fixture on the arts, culture and feature desks at The Guardian, and her words have appeared on NME, Great British Chefs, The Fly, The Line of Best Fit and Australian Times.

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