There’s no doubt that construction is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but there was a time when power tools and heavy construction machinery didn’t even exist. Even with those tools being absent on job sites, amazing structures were still built for thousands of years and with extremely intricate detail. SO how exactly did they do it? Tons of manpower and tons of time, something that many modern jobs don’t have the luxury of. Ignoring all of today’s modern conveniences, a group of French construction workers and other skilled tradesmen and women have teamed up to build an authentic 13th Century style castle.
The Guedelon Castle, located in Burgundy, France, has been under construction since 1997 and it’s still not expected to be complete until 2020. Even though the construction process is spread out over nearly 25 years, it’s an incredible feat to complete this project completely from scratch, with a team of on-site quarrymen, stonemasons, woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, tile masons, and rope makers. That’s right, they even have to make their own tile and ropes; there aren’t any Home Depots available on this job. In total, the project employs 70 craftsmen, 40 of whom work on-site. Not all of those tradesmen came with years of experience, as many had to hone their skills in the field. In to the 70 the project employs, around 600 people spend time throughout the year learning the tricks of the trade.
In order to determine how the castles were actually built centuries ago, a team of achaeologists and historians examined illustrations on medieval manuscripts, financial records, and other 13th century castles that are still standing. Not only has this project been an extremely interesting experiment for today’s people to see with their own eyes how these structures were built, but it also helps researchers fill in the blanks on ancient construction methods.
When Michel Guyot, who owns and restores Saint-Fergeau Castle, originally thought of building this authentic 13th castle, many laughed at him, but he soon found a partner in Maryline Martin. The team worked for months planning and fundraising to make the project a reality. One year after construction started, in 1998, the site was opened to the public, so that visitors could see the amazing process. In 2015 alone, 300,000 people visited Geudelon Castle and the project is now completely funded by tourism.
This is an absolute must see if you ever happen to visit France.
In the video below, by Latvijas komanda, you’ll see some incredible footage of many of the processes, from hoisting large stones by hand with rope, to shaping stone and milling freshly cut timber. There’s even a human hamster wheel to help lift materials and supplies to the upper levels.
For some additional history of the project and even more details on the construction techniques, check out this video by La Culture du Vin
Buildings are demolished all the time in order to make way for new construction. The buildings that are demolished have usually lived out their useful life and are no longer functional. Recently a demolition video resurfaced, which shows a 27 story building in China being imploded. The strange thing is that, since it was finished in 1999, the building had never even been used.
There are a lot of people that would be pretty unhappy with whoever tears down a 98 foot tall, 105 year old tree to make room for a building expansion. In order for most projects to work financially, however, many trees are uprooted and replaced with smaller trees. That’s not what happened with what is believed to be the state of Idaho’s largest sequoia tree, however.
As recently highlighted by several multi-story building fires, contractors should always be prepared in the event a fire starts on a job site. There have been dozens multi-story building fires in the past few years and many were started when the building was topped out. In most cases, the project was completely destroyed, leaving developers and owners to deal with years of delays from insurance claims. A massive five-alarm fire at an Oakland construction site is one of the more recent examples.
Two construction workers in Sarasota, Florida were recently trapped 15 stories in the air after one of the lines on their suspended scaffolding snapped. One of the two men was able to be pulled to safety by some co-workers on site, but the second was stuck on the scaffold for an hour before the fire department could rescue him.
Since it opened its doors in 2010, the Burj Khalifa has been the world’s tallest building, one of the most coveted titles in all of the construction industry. If all goes according to plan, the Burj’s reign at the top will come to an end when Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower is completed in 2020.
A nearby office worker caught video of a dramatic demolition that showed the remains of an 11 story building collapse on top of the excavator performing the demolition.
Strange things are found on job sites across the globe all the time. We’ve shared plenty of stories in the past about the odd things construction workers have discovered, like human remains, 200,000 year old mammoth bones, ancient roman treasure, and more. When contractors dig in the dirt, there’s always a chance of uncovering history. Sometimes, though, the things found can be extremely dangerous.
In order to get the bad taste of last week’s botched demolition, in which an adjacent building also got destroyed in the process, we needed to share a highly successful one. Priestly Demolition, a Canadian demolition contractor, has been the subject of our articles in the past and the company has even won awards for the best demolition in the world.
While placing concrete on the second floor of a future seven-story mixed use building in Oakland, California, the concrete forms suddenly gave way, sending around 20 workers 10 to 15 feet below with the wet concrete. News reports explain the job site went into a panic, understandably so, and co-workers rushed to the scene to help.
Mistakes during demolitions happen. Sometimes contractors knock down the wrong buildings, other times the explosives used don’t knock the building over, and other demolitions are carried out with a complete lack of regard for human life. As fun as they are to perform and watch, they’re inherently dangerous and there should be a plan in place in case things go wrong.