How do you demolish buildings in the dense urban landscape of Tokyo? You shrink them!

Tokyo is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. You’ve no doubt seen some pictures of impossibly skinny buildings crammed into the crowded cityscape. But, putting these buildings up is the easy part, the hard part is taking them down. When you can reach out your window and touch the building next door, traditional explosives or wrecking ball-based demolitions are out of the question. One Tokyo building firm has come up with a new way of demolishing buildings in tightly packed areas: by shrinking them!

This video from BBC News Asia shows the Akasaka Grand Prince Hotel, a glass skyscraper of the 1980’s, as it slowly “shrinks” down to ground level. The demolition is so gradual that locals don’t even seem to notice, with one onlooker exclaiming after being told “Really? I didn’t realize!” Inside the building, the scene is even more dramatic, as a series of jacks gradually lower the top floors of the building as construction workers de-construct the lower levels.

Hideki Ichihara, whose Taisei corporation designed the technology behind the shrinking Akasaka Hotel, says it is cleaner, safer, and more environmentally friendly than current demolition techniques. He says the technology is particularly useful in densely populated cities that have huge skyscrapers, such as Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Watching the building “shrink” in time-lapsed footage shows the remarkable ingenuity of Japanese engineers, and I’m sure will make many anime fans draw comparisons to Evangelion’s famous retractable city of New Tokyo-3.

Source: BBC News Asia

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