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How to demolish skyscrapers in crowded cities

Posting in Cities

We get excited to see shiny new skyscrapers rise in cities. But as fast as skyscrapers are being born, there are skyscrapers that are coming to the end of their life.

In Tokyo, skyscrapers over 100 meters tall generally are torn down after 30-40 years. It's a challenging task with millions of people and nearby building packed so closely together. But one company has developed a demolition process that's much less dramatic (there are plenty of Youtube videos for that) and keeps people and buildings safe without all the debris and clouds of dust.

Taisei, a Tokyo-based building corporation, has developed the Taisei Ecological Reproduction System which the company says is safer, quieter, and better for the environment because all the destruction happens inside the skyscraper. As Hideki Ichihara of Taisei explains to The Japan Times:

"It's kind of like having a disassembly factory on top of the building and putting a big hat there, and then the building shrinks" from the top, said Ichihara.

This "hat" benefits everyone, according to the company.  By working in an enclosed space, outside noise is reduced by 17 to 23 decibels while dust is cut by as much as 90 percent. What's more, it's safer for workers than being in the open air, Taisei said.

With this method, the building's roof is held in place with temporary columns that allow for the enclosed workspace. The roof is lowered slowly as the destruction process moves forward and the skyscraper slowly disappears from the skyline, as this video shows:

According to Ichihara, Japan has 797 buildings over 100 meters. In 10 years, 99 of those buildings will be between 30 and 40 years old. So there will likely be a decent market for skyscraper destruction. The company is also looking to sell the technology overseas.

Razing skyscrapers from the inside [The Japan Times]

Photo: Flickr/tokyoform

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— By on January 8, 2013, 4:55 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure