As Principal Contractor DSM were appointed to undertake the soft stripping, asbestos removal, high speed explosive and site clearance of the former New Walk Council Offices in Leicester City Centre.
The two office blocks, built in the 1970’s, were close proximity to listed buildings; occupied business and domestic premises, main arterial routes and protected trees planted by the Queen during a visit to the city to celebrate her Silver Jubilee.
The two curved blocks, one eight storeys high and the other thirteen storeys high, were separated by a central podium structure containing a car park. The car park was demolished first by traditional methods to produce an area into which the collapsing tower blocks could safely fall into with no outward spill of the debris.
The removal of the landmark blocks presented particular challenges due to the unsafe structural condition of many floors which affected how they would behave during the collapse of the buildings. As the tallest buildings in the locality combined with their curved shape they were notorious for the wind tunnel effect they produced even in moderate wind conditions. This factor and the method of demolition required the removal without breakage of the glazed facades on two faces immediately adjacent and above the site boundary.
By utilising explosive demolition the amount of disruption to the city centre and length of time road closures had to be in place was limited to a single day. The method of works and supporting works had to be agreed with many organisations including: Leicester Constabulary; Leicester Highways; Specialist inspectorate of the HSE; structural engineers; Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester Prison and the Civil Aviation Authority.
On the Sunday the demolition took place on DSM arranged for over 700 residents who lived within the exclusion zone to be taken to hospitality areas in the nearby Leicester Tigers Rugby ground. Here DSM provided food and drink and a live video stream of the site operations. The works went as planned allowing all residents to return to their homes and re-opening the adjacent roads within the planned time span in the morning.