An Abu Dhabi Skyscraper Enters the Guinness Book of World Records

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           On November 27, 2020, In one of the most interesting, if not dubious, Guinness World records, the 165 meters tall Meena Plaza Towers were brought down by a controlled demolition job. Meena Plaza is a massive concrete complex with four towers measuring 27, 38, 38, and 50 stories in height. These towers have a base structure with nine levels. Without teamwork, a successful controlled demolition of this scale can’t be adequately done. A thorough plan has to be laid down by the authorities and qualified experts covering safety, structural analysis, and most importantly, the dynamics of the explosion itself. Simulation made by third-party experts supported the validation for the precise calculations. Most importantly, the demolition should not result in a long-term disability of the economic viability of the immediate vicinity of the demolition site.

 

Background:

           The demolition of the Meena Plaza Towers is a part of the Phase 2 redevelopment plan for the Mina Zayed area according to Khaleej Times. Mina Zayed has been serving as the sea-trading area of Abu Dhabi since the ’70s. Mina Zayed is a major part of Abu Dhabi’s success story by helping boost the Emirate’s international trade. Operations of the small businesses near the building will not stop. The shops, though, will be transferred in phases upon completion of the redevelopment of the area. Work on the wharf itself is the most important. The complex proposed to be built in the site will be renovated and with some spots repurposed. The areas involved cover where the Meena Plaza Towers were standing.

           The Meena Plaza Towers themselves have never been utilized as intended. Construction started in 2007. However, due to budget and material issues, construction halted in 2015. Zelan Holdings, a Malaysian construction company, pulled out of the project after not having been paid Dh27.6M for the work done and materials supplied. The building never finished until the decision to bring it down arrived late in 2019. The building will make way for an all-new wharf in the strategically important part of the community.

 

Preparation

           Stringent safety measures were imposed by the DMT (Department of Municipalities and Transport). Temporary closures affected the fish, vegetable, slaughterhouse, iconic carpet, and livestock markets. Police announced the closure of the routes leading to the area from 6:00 AM of the demolition date until the end of the demolition work. Alternative routes from a safe distance were advised to motorists.

           Modon Properties is responsible for the task of redeveloping the Mina Zayed area, including the demolition work. Units from different agencies were prepositioned around the area to assure that the highest international standards for safety were followed.

 

The Approach

           Safedem, a Dundee Scotland-based demolition company, was selected by Modon Properties to implement the demolition work itself. The engineers at Safedem went about thorough site inspection and detailed structural analysis to help with the detailed calculations for the blast design. 

The plan is to guarantee that the building will collapse on its footprint on the initiation of the blast sequence. The precise calculations will ensure the integrity of the structure during the preparation phase. The ultimate goal is a safe and trouble-free demolition. Safedem appointed Applied Science International to make detailed simulations to validate the calculations made by Safedem. 

 

The Result

           The blast took down the entire Meena Plaza Towers (consisting of a base structure and four towers) in the space of ten seconds. Among the witnesses, representatives from The Guinness Book of World Records were in hand. The sequence of events resulted in zero casualties, and no other safety concerns were reported by the authorities present. 

Safedem Managing Director and Lead Explosives Engineer William Sinclair stated, “I am immensely proud of the Safedem team who have managed to safely and successfully achieve a new world record so far from home in the midst of a global pandemic.” The Guinness Book of World record for the tallest structure demolished by explosives was awarded to Safedem, breaking a record that has stood for two decades.

 

 

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