Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Building Demolition: The Different Methods

By Matthew G Smyth

The definition of demolition is the destroying or taking down of a large building or structure. A common misconception is that demolition means the same as deconstruction. This is false as deconstruction involves carefully removing any re-usable materials for recycling during the taking down process.

Demolition is a fairly straightforward process when it is only small houses of two or three stories that need demolishing as the building can simply be pulled down manually or using mechanical machinary such as raised work platforms, cranes or bulldozers.

For larger buildings it can get a little more complex as they may require a wrecking ball to be used. A wrecking ball is an extremely heavy weight on the end of a cable, like a pendulum that is swung using a crane into the side of a building.

Although wrecking balls certainly get the job done, they are rather a reckless method and it is hard to keep control over the building and the ball and without the right expert training they can be lethal.

Another demolition method for particularly large buildings is implosion. This is where experts precisely place explosive devices so that when the blow up the building is levelled to the ground in seconds. It is however the most hazardous demolition method and there are many risks involved.

Collateral damage is of course a huge factor to take into consideration when planning a building implosion. The explosives must be placed strategically by experts in order to destroy the supports only so that the building simply falls in on itself without debris flying everywhere.

Another danger that must be considered when carrying out a building implosion is that if the explosives aren't placed with precision, then the supports may not blow up evenly, therefore potentially causing the building to topple over on its side, greatly increasing the overall damage done to the surrounding area.

Although you may not have thought it, cloud cover is a key factor to consider when planning an implosion. The reason for this is that the implosion itself creates a shockwave that fires upwards and if the sky is clear, then the shockwave will carry on going upwards not harming anyone. However if there is low cloud cover, then the wave will hit them and fan out, breaking most windows in its path and probably damaging some buildings that are close by.

What most people don't realise about implosion is that although the implosion itself only takes seconds, the work that has to be done prior to it is can take up to six months as all of the interior has to be prepared and the inner walls have to be destroyed, as well as extensive studying of the surrounding area. Even though it is the most commonly remembered type of demolition due to its entertainment value, it is usually considered a final resort when deciding on a demolition method.

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