A skyscraper still standing after trying to blow it up


As exciting as it may sound, blowing up buildings really is the art of allowing gravity to take the load off a structure. Instead of blowing it up by explosion, you want to bring the building down by implosion. Intended demolition requires just the right amount of strategically placed explosives applied somewhere on the lower levels of the building. After the bang, the upper part crushes the lower floors, while plummeting on itself in the process. If you know what you’re doing, and this involves proper engineering skills, an understanding of inertia and structural knowledge of the building, you have some say in how the building collapses and in which direction. This comes in handy when you do this within in a build-up environment.

To the embarrassment of the blasters but the amusement of the spectators, this sometimes goes wrong. Structures topple, break in half or even roll over. Sometimes, parts of the building still stand after the smoke has cleared. In these cases, we speak of toughscrapers.

A recent case of show-stoppers involved the synchronised send-off of the six remaining towers of the infamous Red Road Development in Glasgow. Being a textbook example of a failed social housing project, it even managed to fail its demolition, leaving two towers partly standing. A fitting end, one might argue.

I’m quite sure those who are professionally involved in blowing up skyscrapers, and who as a kid didn’t dream of doing this when he’d grow up, have a term for these, but if they do the lingo is not shared. An email to the Loizeaux family, who have been doing this quite successfully for three generations under the Controlled Demolition brand, was returned saying they don’t really use any slang when it comes to that. But now we do.