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December 29, 2017

How high-rise demolitions go down in Singapore

When a high-rise building in Singapore needs to be demolished, contractors don’t come in with a wrecking ball.

“Last time, they used a concrete ball,” Ginlee Construction managing director Tommy Lim told Channel NewsAsia. “But of course, last time, the HDB (Housing and Development Board) blocks were 10 storeys tall.”

With demolition works for the iconic, multi-coloured Rochor Centre set to begin early next year, what exactly goes on when a building is pulled down?

Mr Lim, who founded the award-winning demolition contractor more than two decades ago, said wrecking balls take too long and make too much noise. Furthermore, buildings here are too tall and too close to each other.

That’s also why explosives are not used. And you need someone with a lot of expertise to place the explosives in a way that brings the entire building down in one fell swoop, Mr Lim said.

“The worst part is if you cannot blast it down, how? It’s a big headache.”

So in most cases, contractors in Singapore use concrete breakers and crushers. “They hoist the machines all the way up to the rooftop,” Mr Lim said. “From there, floor by floor they hack it down.”

Sounds simple enough … but Mr Ng said there is plenty of preparation and planning involved before work actually begins. There are meetings to attend and presentations to conduct.

“Even if the head knows what is going on, doesn’t mean the person on site knows,” Mr Lim said. “We must make sure everybody understands their role in the project.”

When a building owner puts up a tender for demolition, Mr Lim will first make a site visit.

Several things will be on his checklist.

Keep reading on Channel News Asia