Gloucester House 17 storey Tower Block Demolition

Demolition project background

DDS secured the competitive tender for the tower block demolition of 17 storey residential Gloucester House (169 flats) and surrounding 5 no 5 storey blocks of Durham Court in Kilburn, London.

The buildings were made of the infamously unstable Large Panel System construction.

DDS has a good knowledge of Large Panel System structures having carried out the demolition of several buildings constructed with LPS including a multi‐storey car park directly adjacent to London Underground infrastructure at Hammersmith.

A Top Down demolition method was considered however the buildings would have required complete backpropping resulting in a longer programme and higher costs involved for the Client. This method would have also required demolition operatives to work at height.

Ultimately we opted for the Super High Reach 360° excavator fitted with a hydraulic rotating multi processor attachment to progressively demolish the structures down to slab level. This method reduced the requirement for operatives to work at height and was a quieter method over a shorter time frame. The reduced element of backpropping was installed to one corner of the structure to allow stability during the super high operation. We also benefited from sufficient room around the structure therefore an adequate exclusion / buffer zone could be demarcated. Access was good and the buildings could be worked on from all sides. The sequencing and control of the demolition debris was also very manageable.

The 17 storey tower block demolition required precise yet efficient razing, especially given the urban location of the structures. The Council and Clients instruction was to naturally keep the effects of our works to a minimum therefore this method was the ideal solution.

Commencing with the fastidious removal of licensed and non-licensed asbestos by DDS Environmental, full strip out of the buildings followed prior to the first grasp of the top of the tower block by the 63 metre Super High Reach arm and attachment.

Throughout the 43 week programme we sited numerous noise, dust and vibration monitoring points across our compound alongside the frequent and routine use of dust bosses and hose dampening.

Working to a predetermined sequence, the effective and well organised tandem demolition of not only Gloucester House but also the blocks of Durham Court allowed for a timely programme to be met successfully.


  • Carry out a Pre‐Demolition Survey
  • Establish site welfare facilities
  • Confirm termination of services – liaised with Client
  • Provide vermin control
  • Provide and maintain tree protection as indicated on drawings
  • Design and install any temporary works
  • Remove any Sharps equipment and associated drug paraphernalia
  • Remove any bird infestation
  • Maintain continuous access to 3 No. UKPN Sub Stations during the works
  • Install noise and vibration monitoring stations
  • Remove asbestos materials and transport to a Licensed disposal facility
  • Design / erect scaffold to south east corner of 25‐32 Durham Court
  • Soft strip services, fixtures, fittings and non‐load bearing structures
  • Demolish the buildings down to ground slab level
  • Break out ground bearing slabs, hardstandings
  • Break out foundations
  • Probe ground to minimum of 2.0m below existing ground level
  • Crush concrete / hardcore and stockpile on site
  • Remove existing playground play equipment to St. Augustine’s Sports Centre
  • Remove any underground tanks, including disposal of contents and backfilling with crushed concrete
  • Remove all soft strip and other demolition materials arising and transport to appropriate disposal
  • Installation of piling platforms at multiple levels
  • Grade site to remove trip hazards and leave even surface
  • Leave site clean, tidy and safe on completion.

Achievements and Successes

  • First and flagship project for a new Client
  • Innovative and confident tender submission
  • Negotiated reduced level dig and piling mat installation as additional package
  • Liaised with client to help develop specification and design
  • Developed Super High Reach method to save client time and money compared to top down as proposed by competitors
  • Designed and installed a back propping regime to enable the Super High Reach to be suitably positioned
  • Maintained sub stations at the base of the tower block using heavy duty crash decks
  • Sequenced our works to avoid conflict with the Recording Studio across the road (in the Church)
  • Open and transparent working relationship with the Client and the Council
  • Delivered on budget and on programme