Comm Games: Flats demolished for opening ceremony

A man walks his dog near the 30-story Red Road apartment blocks which were built in the 1960s as modern replacements for slum housing in Glasgow. Photo / AP
A man walks his dog near the 30-story Red Road apartment blocks which were built in the 1960s as modern replacements for slum housing in Glasgow. Photo / AP

Brilliant, bizarre or barbaric?

Glasgow's explosive plans to "respectfully" demolish five high-rise buildings as the centrepiece of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony are already dividing opinion.

Organisers on Thursday announced five iconic 30-storey blocks will be brought down during the July 23 ceremony, with footage beamed live to Celtic Park and an estimated TV audience of one billion.

The Red Road towers, built in the 1960s on the site of a former cabbage patch, once housed 5000 people but have since fallen into decline.

"By sharing the blow-down with the rest of the world I hope it will be seen as the noble, respectful and celebratory send-off that it is intended to be," Glasgow 2014 artistic director David Zolkwer said in a statement.

"Over the course of just a few seconds the city's skyline will be transformed forever.

"It's a bold and confident statement that says 'bring on the future'."

Not everyone agrees and the "blow-down" plans were met with blowback on Twitter.

"Yep here in Glasgow we're going to blow up buildings to kick off the Commonwealth Games. Proving Scotland is rather barbaric," Melissa Murray tweeted.

A.D.Winn said: "Nothing says 'welcome to Glasgow' more than a live demolition."

Comedian Robert Florence has written to Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson pointing out the demolition is an emotional event for locals.

On Twitter he stated: "The north of the city has had no real involvement with the Commonwealth Games - until they decided to blow up our buildings as entertainment".

The brutalist Red Road flats - at one time the tallest residential structures in Europe - are 3km north of Celtic Park in Glasgow's north east.

Their demolition has been brought forward by two years to coincide with the opening ceremony.

Nearby residents in almost 1000 homes will be temporarily evacuated when the blocks are brought down using 1250kg of explosives.

"It will be a ceremony like no other," Cr Matheson said in a statement.

"We are going to wow the world, with the demolition of the Red Road flats set to play a starring role."

Apart from a global TV audience, inside Celtic Park athletes and the general public will get to view the demolition on a record-breaking 100 metre-wide screen occupying the entire south stand of the stadium.

However, big moments have backfired at previous opening ceremonies.

At the 1998 Seoul Olympics, hundreds of doves were released over the Jamsil stadium before some were accidentally burned alive by the Olympic flame.

Using explosives for entertainment can also be dangerous.

A 12-year-old girl was killed in 1997 when authorities encouraged 100,000 people to watch the demolition of Canberra Hospital from the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

The girl died instantly when struck on the head by a one kilogram chunk of steel.

But Games organisers insist safety will be paramount come July 23.

Demolition contractor Safedem have already 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," the Glasgow 2014 team said.

-AAP

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