Why Is This Excavator Excavating A 12-Story Building From The Top Down?

Holy crap, is that an excavator excavating a 12 story building out from underneath itself in China?! Yes, but it's probably not quite the terrible, ridiculously unsafe idea that it seems to be. Here's why.

Snapped in one of China's rapidly expanding cities, this '70s-era office and apartment block is likely making way for something newer and shinier. But, all that concrete has to be removed somehow. Blowing up a building in a controlled implosion requires closing a large area and plenty of permits, the Chinese are instead dismantling it piece by piece. Hey, all that requires is labor. And labor is cheap in China.

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What we suspect is going on here is something of a trick of perspective. Hovering outside the frame of these photos is likely a very large crane, possibly being used simultaneously across a cluster of several buildings. What you can't see unless you zoom in (click the picture to enlarge) is that rather than a shovel, the excavator is actually equipped with a hydraulic hammer. That crane would have lifted it on the building where, instead of scooping out its own foundations, the device is instead pulverizing a particularly tricky part of the foundation.

Why Is This Excavator Excavating A 12-Story Building From The Top Down?

When it comes time to drop a floor, it'll be lifted off, the structure will be dropped a floor and then the excavator will likely be replaced, one floor lower, continuing to work on that strong central building frame.