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Demolition

Demolition of a hotel in southern England.

Demolition or razing is the tearing down of buildings and other man-made structures. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for reuse purposes.

For small buildings, such as houses, that are only two or three stories high, demolition is a rather simple process. The building is pulled down either manually or mechanically using large hydraulic equipment: elevated work platforms, cranes, excavators or bulldozers. Larger buildings may require the use of a wrecking ball, a heavy weight on a cable that is swung by a crane into the side of the buildings. Wrecking balls are especially effective against masonry, but are less easily controlled and often less efficient than other methods. Newer methods may use rotational hydraulic shears and silenced rock-breakers attached to excavators to cut or break through wood, steel, and concrete. The use of shears is especially common when flame cutting would be dangerous.

Manual

Before any demolition activities can take place, there are many steps that must be carried out beforehand, including performing asbestos abatement, removing hazardous or regulated materials, obtaining necessary permits, submitting necessary notifications, disconnecting utilities, rodent baiting and the development of site-specific safety and work plans.

The typical razing of a building is accomplished as follows:

Hydraulic excavators may be used to topple one- or two-story buildings by an undermining process. The strategy is to undermine the building while controlling the manner and direction in which it falls.

High reach demolition excavators are more often used for tall buildings where explosive demolition is not appropriate or possible. Excavators with shear attachments are typically used to dismantle steel structural elements. Hydraulic hammers are often used for concrete structures and concrete processing attachments are used to crush concrete to a manageable size, and to remove reinforcing steel. For tall concrete buildings, where neither explosive nor high reach demolition with an excavator is safe or practical, the "inside-out" method is used, whereby remotely operated mini-excavators demolish the building from the inside, whilst maintaining the outer walls of the building as a scaffolding, as each floor is demolished.

To control dust, fire hoses are used to maintain a wet demolition. Hoses may be held by workers, secured in fixed location, or attached to lifts to gain elevation.

Building implosion

Large buildings, tall chimneys, smokestacks, bridges, and increasingly some smaller structures may be destroyed by building implosion using explosives. Imploding a structure is very fast—the collapse itself only takes seconds—and an expert can ensure that the structure falls into its own footprint, so as not to damage neighboring structures. This is essential for tall structures in dense urban areas.

Controlled implosion, being spectacular, is the method that the general public often thinks of when discussing demolition; however, it can be dangerous and is only used as a last resort when other methods are impractical or too costly. The destruction of large buildings has become increasingly common as the massive housing projects of the 1960s and 1970s are being leveled around the world.

Deconstruction

A new approach to demolition is the deconstruction of a building with the goal of minimizing the amount of materials going to landfills. This "green" approach is applied by removing the materials by type material and segregating them for reuse or recycling. With proper planning this approach has resulted in landfill diversion rates that exceed 90% of an entire building and its contents in some cases. It also vastly reduces the CO2 emissions of the removing of a building in comparison to demolition.

 

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17 September 2019

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