UPDATE: The Guardian reports that the plans to demolish the Red Road Flats during the Commonwealth Games have been scrapped due to concerns over public safety. The following news was originally published as "Glasgow to Demolish Iconic Modern Towers in Europe's Largest Demolition" on April 10th, 2014.
To mark the arrival of the Commonwealth Games in July, Glasgow is planning a twist on the usual opening ceremony: the customary fireworks are going to be replaced with explosives of an altogether different kind, as the demolition of all but one of the remaining Red Road Flats buildings will be broadcast live into the stadium.
The demolition of the five 30-story buildings will take 15 seconds and will be the largest ever attempted in Europe, according to the organizers. According to Games Organizer Eileen Gallagher, including the demolition as part of the opening ceremony shows that Glasgow is "a city that is proud of its history but doesn't stand still, a city that is constantly regenerating, renewing and re-inventing itself."
Read on for more about the planned demolition
The Red Road flats were once the pride of Glasgow, and the tallest residential buildings in Europe. Since they were constructed in the 1960s they have been an iconic part of the Glasgow skyline, but as with so many other high-rise housing blocks, they were unable to change the fundamental fortunes of those that lived in them, and over time became known for crime and poverty.
The demolition of the 8 buildings has been underway for a number of years, with the first building coming down in 2012 and another in 2013. Though a gradual demolition had been planned for the remaining buildings, this plan was altered to provide a spectacle for the opening ceremony, but also to reduce the number of times that 887 nearby residents will have to temporarily evacuate their homes.
However, many have questioned whether it is appropriate to include the demolition of the buildings as a part of a celebration to be broadcast worldwide. There is even a petition to stop the plans. As Feargus O'Sullivan points out in the Atlantic Cities, it is insensitive not only to the thousands of residents from the past 50 years, but especially to those who, until the last tower is demolished in 2017, will live in a building deemed more suitable for a 15-second spectacle than for human habitation.