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Sat March 06 2021

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Commonwealth Games to open with Europe’s biggest live demolition

4 Apr 14 Five iconic Glasgow skyscrapers will be demolished live during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

Demolition of the Red Road tower blocks is seen as a bold and dramatic statement of intent from a city focused on regeneration.

The blow-down of five of the six remaining blocks, at one time the tallest residential structures in Europe, will take just 15 seconds and is claimed to be the biggest demolition of its kind ever seen in Europe.

This event will be beamed live into Celtic Park via a 100 metre-wide screen occupying the entire south stand of the stadium. It will form part of the opening ceremony, the curtain raiser to the largest sporting and cultural event Scotland has ever hosted.

An estimated television audience of 1.5 billion people around the world will see the 30-storey blocks fall to the ground, transforming the city’s skyline.

The blocks, owned by Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), were originally due to be demolished over the next two years. However GHA was keen to explore the possibility of bringing five down at once to minimise the number of times residents had to be evacuated. One block is currently used to house asylum seekers and will come down later.

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The opportunity presented itself to bring the five blocks down during the Commonwealth Games and Glasgow City Council, Glasgow 2014, GHA and demolition contractor Safedem have been collaborating on bringing the two projects together.

Safety will be paramount as the blocks are demolished under strictly controlled conditions using more than 1,250kg of explosives. Safedem successfully brought down two of the Red Road blocks in 2012 and 2013. The blow-down will only take place during the Opening Ceremony if and when it is safe to do so.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The Opening Ceremony will be the moment when we welcome the world to Glasgow. It will be a ceremony like no other, showcasing our city’s unique style and personality and with our people and communities at its very heart. We are going to wow the world, with the demolition of the Red Road flats set to play a starring role.

“Red Road has an iconic place in Glasgow’s history, having been home to thousands of families and dominating the city’s skyline for decades. Their demolition will all but mark the end of high-rise living in the area and is symbolic of the changing face of Glasgow, not least in terms of our preparations for the Games.”

Built between 1964 and 1969 on the site of a former cabbage patch, Red Road was constructed to address the Glasgow’s growing housing needs and once provided accommodation for almost 5,000 people. Early residents revelled in the clean modern design and facilities such as central heating and a bathroom, which offered vast improvements from the slum tenements that many were moving from.

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