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Moscow is another story — also in demolition

The Russian capital city of Moscow is probably today the ‘world capital of demolition’. This is due to the legacy of the Soviet era that produced thousands of sub-quality apartment and other buildings. During the Soviet era in most cases the apartments were too small to please the present day dwellers, the building materials were of low quality and today there is a lot of buildings that just are dangerous to live in. Since there is an acute need of new dwellings, old buildings are constantly being demolished to give way for new ones, whether apartment buildings, office blocks or shopping and other complexes.

The demolition industry in the whole of Russia and in the present CIS countries is large and vivid but next to impossible even to estimate in figures, since there are no government statistics or national associations to compile them. The biggest Russian player is a company called Satori who claims to have a 30 per cent market share in Moscow. In addition to Moscow, Satori is active in many other regions, mainly large cities of Russia but even they cannot estimate the industry volumes elsewhere. Nevertheless, the demolition and recycle crushing industries are a booming business in the country.

Satori – the demolition giant of Russia

The Satori company was founded in 1993. Gradually the company has grown and now claims to be the biggest demolition company in the country. Satori also is active in building and construction, it is an investor, developer, consultant and a provider of project management on top of earthmoving, assembly of metal structures, bricklaying, etc. The company has developed its functions and for instance, is very active in recycle crushing of construction and building and demolition waste.

“One of the company’s objectives is to be a complete supplier of all construction and demolition related functions in the very wide sense of the word. We have a fleet of well over 100 trucks and well over 20 excavators and a further fleet of loaders, bulldozers, concrete pumps, diesel power generating plants, compactors and many other types of machines and tools. All of them are imported machines so that we can provide the highest standard of services to our clients”, Mr Tenghiz Kadjaya, Director General emphasizes.

“More recently we have invested in the complete chain of treating demolition and building waste because of the need to utilize the ever growing amount of waste material that can be recycled. We now have three recycle crushing and demolition waste handling plants and we recycle up to 80% of construction waste, 60% of which returns to the construction industry in the form of recycled rubble made of concrete and brick,” he explains.

“We also learn constantly by doing and can improve our work knowledge and working methods. A few years ago we were involved in the improvement of the Moscow Ring Highway. Our job was to demolish 36 road and railroad bridges, all of them projects that required individual planning. The first bridge took two months’ working time but the last one we did in three days. That’s a considerable learning curve, I would say,” Mr. Kadjaya states with content.

Moscow spectacuars

 There are quite a few challenges that the demolition projects face. In many cases the old buildings are located in the crowded downtown or otherwise close to another structures that are not demolished. This results in that communications and pipelines need to function and require protection. Also the local people need protection during the work. Therefore demolition is in many cases done by hand tools instead of machines, and the use of explosives really is not very feasible at all.

The demolition business as such has developed technically very fast in Russia. Ten years ago the only technical method of demolition was the use of ball rams. Now all modern methods are used.

“We have several ways of demolition and dismantling of buildings: By hand, by dismantling or by actual demolition. In many cases we employ a combination of them. Higher buildings are often dismantled to the height of five, four or three storeys and then demolished. We have also demolished many old buildings leaving the faзade left for historical or cultural reasons,” Mr Kadjaya explains.

“During the past five years Satori has demolished over 500 buildings in the Moscow region. About half of them were those 5-storey apartment buildings built mostly in the 70’ies and now in such condition that they cannot be used for living any more. Since Moscow – and the whole of Russia for that matter – has a huge need for new houses, our work will not be finished in the foreseeable future,” Mr Kadjaya says. “In fact, we do not refer to demolition but call our projects the ‘release of land area for new construction’. And this is exactly what we are doing,” he adds.

“When most of the 5-storey buildings have been demolished, then we start the demolition of the 9-storey standard buildings. Naturally we also demolish other buildings such as the ‘Intourist’ hotel last year. It was the first time in the city history that a 22-storey and 75m tall building was dismantled in downtown Moscow,” he comments.

Dismantling of hotel ‘Russia’

One of the present challenges for Satori is the project of dismantling the hotel ‘Russia’ or ‘Rossiya’ as it is called in Russian, in downtown Moscow. Originally commissioned in 1967 the hotel complex consisted of four 12-storey buildings and was – particularly in the beginning – a landmark of Moscow near Kreml facing partly the Red Square. The hotel was closed on January 1st this year but before closing had received more than 11 million guests. The replacing complex will include hotels, shops, offices, a parking garage, a cinema and a concert hall.

Due to the central location and technical details, it was decided to dismantle the hotel instead of explosive demolition. The building has a volume of 878,000 cubic meters, and at the peak of work, about 1,000 workers will be employed. These are huge figures by any account. The new block will have less than half of the volume of the old hotel.

The actual preparation work started the 1st of February. This included the erection of barriers and informative billboards, dismantling of internal walls, assembling tower cranes and scaffoldings, workforce cabins, etc. Then communication and other utility pipelines were disconnected, partitions disassembled, elevators dismantled. Also mini excavators equipped with hydraulic hammers were lifted on roofs.

Diamond cutting and reinforced strengthening

Satori also faced some unique problems. When ‘Russia’ was built, in the original construction particular H-formed concrete elements were used that are only met in this building. They were large, 6 x 4.8m, structures each weighing 8.3 tonnes thus providing strength to the whole building. Dismantling them took place for two floors at once. Besides, for additional strength, particular monolith stressed ceilings each weighing 4.3 tonnes was used. These had to be dismantled by diamond cutting.

Furthermore, the dismantling process of reinforced concrete ceiling slabs required mechanized hand tools, diamond cutting tools and mini excavators, and all debris was lowered down by tower cranes.

Another aspect of the work was the need to use reinforced concrete on the ground around the whole hotel complex to support the heavy machinery. Originally, the area around the hotel was not rated for such loads. 

As in most Satori demolition projects, also here all waste will be transported to the company’s recycle plants for future use. The amount of reinforced concrete only is 200,000 cubic metres added by all other waste.

PDi (Professional Demolitional) 3,2006