Tearing Down From The Top Down
Several Japanese construction companies have developed efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to demolish tall buildings without resorting to explosives and wrecking balls.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Tokyo-based construction company Taisei has developed a demolition system for tall buildings that they say is cleaner and more environmentally friendly than traditional and more destructive methods. It works from the top down by using huge jacks to support and slowly lower the roof as each floor is dismantled and its materials carried to the ground via a crane system. The floors being dismantled are wrapped in an enclosure, which reduces the volume of dust particles by a factor of 100, according to spokesperson Hideki Ichihara. By not using fossil fuel-based heavy machinery, the process also drastically reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
What's the Big Idea?
Taisei is one of several companies using unique methods to tear down skyscrapers that are more than 100 meters tall and between 30 and 40 years old, which is typically considered old age by architectural standards. However, professor Takuro Yoshida questions whether even the most efficient demolition methods make a difference from an ecological perspective, and says that improved engineering can keep newer buildings standing for longer periods of time. "The idea that buildings are rebuilt on a 30- to 40-year cycle is itself about 20 years old," he says.
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