The silently serene shrinking skyscraper

When buildings come to the end of their natural life, the way they are decommissioned usually involves wrecking balls and explosives, creating a huge volume of dust and debris. However, a new technique, presently being seen in Tokyo, could be set to change all this.

In the heart of Japan’s capital city, the iconic Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka is being taken down a floor at a time.

It is effectively shrinking day by day, with the roof slowly journeying downwards. The building used to stand at 140 metres. Today, it is just over 100 metres tall, and will be entirely gone by mid-spring 2013.

The demolition process is being carried out by the Taisei Corporation. It works by effectively sealing a floor at a time in a building wrap, while large jacks move the original roof down, as the concrete flooring beneath is removed.

The beams of the construction – as well as the concrete floor – are removed by hand and moved to the ground by a system of cranes. The cranes generate electricity for the process as they operate, while all building materials are recycled if possible.

There is also a significant reduction in the amount of heavy plant machinery used on site – further espousing the green credentials of the operation.

The volume of dust particles released is also hugely reduced – by a factor of 100 in direct comparison to more traditional methods.

With buildings now commonly having a lifecycle of 40 years, and skyscrapers needing more effective demolition principles, the process could soon be commonplace in cities across the world.

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