Excavator on Rooftop of 12-Story Building in Taiyuan

A lone excavator digger working on the roof of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

A lone excavator digger working on the roof of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

On NetEase & Sina:

Taiyuan excavator working on top of 12 story building

January 5th, Shanxi province Taiyuan city Wanbailin district Yingze West Street, an excavator operates on the rooftop of the Shanxi Science and Technology Hotel, causing surrounding city residents both surprise and concern. [click to enlarge]

A lone excavator digger working on the roof of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

A lone excavator digger working on the rooftop of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.A lone excavator digger working on the rooftop of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

A lone excavator digger working on the rooftop of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

A lone excavator digger working on the rooftop of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.A lone excavator digger working on the rooftop of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

A lone excavator digger working on the rooftop of a 12 story building in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China.

Comments from Sina Weibo:


I’m skeptical… How did it get up there… It’s inconceivable.


Technology these days is so frightening… You wouldn’t believe it without seeing it with your own eyes.


I really saw it up there like this digging around, demolishing the building!! Even now I don’t understand how they got it up there. – – !!!!! But I’ve seen this 3 times now. So scary.


A bunch of SBs, 100m cranes are everywhere these days, as long as the center of gravity is stable, there isn’t any danger at all, with such a long hydraulic arm. If you don’t understand, don’t make a fuss~


I happen to be an excavator operator and those who say it was lifted up there, PS‘d on there, as well as those who say it was assembled up there…here I’m in awe of your imagination, because actually it was driven up there on a path laid in the building itself. How?? Have to see to know!!


It was PS‘d on there!


The Transformers have arrived~~~~


Taiyuan’s excavators are so niubi.


Chinese people are simply intelligent.


Incredible~ though this excavator operator sure is being dangerous~


So incredible/daring! I’m still bewildered, did they use a helicopter to lift it up there?


Risking one’s life to earn money! Pitiful poor people.

What do you think?

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • that machine is looking for a sofa

    • Mr. Marcipan

      Jeeez, that sofa crap is getting old…

      • hail

        i just up voted this

  • LMFAO!

    anything goes in China

  • Foreign Devil

    if that were a parking garage they could have driven it up. . . but it does not look like one. . so it must have a massive elevator shaft in the center which they stripped the elevator out of and hoisted up this excavator. In the west we’d probably use explosives to take down such a building. . but probably China bans explosives for civilian uses as they don’t trust their population. Never have I seen a place that builds and tears down buildings over such a short time span. This would even make the Tibetan yogi Milarepa shudder!!

    • robin yates

      you are talking through your hat sir. That is a 20 ton machine which could not fit in an elevator shaft.

    • 山炮 ShanPao

      Whats wrong with you? Have you never heard of a crane?

    • jin

      youre a idiot, using excavator to take down a building? and on top of it? its prabably cleaning up the mess up there. and youre really a idiot, now think before you open your mouth again.

      • Angus Matheson

        It is demolishing the building, and it was lifted up there by a crane.

  • AnHonestObserver

    Just detonate some explosives. And what a waste of a building that’s never been used. They probably didn’t have the proper paperwork to build it in the first place.

    • coala banana

      well, its not really a waste. I saw such things dozens of times in china. Some officials come together and “invent” a way to make money. They found a contractor (usually a relative who has no idea about the job) who will later split the money amongst them. He is also the one who subcontract to certain different construction companies, which again subcontract to some backyard companies. All subcontractors will not get paid at all, or they will get paid just a small portion of what was agreed on. It was never the intention in the first place to made the project work. There is a lot of money to be made in china with such kind of construction work, but there is less or no money in getting things done and run them afterwards, that creates too much costs. Corruption is amazing !

      Detonation could be done, but there are just a handful skillful people in whole china which could do that more or less professionally, since having guns and explosives is restricted to the army/police alone, they don’t have the resources to do so in the private sector. Its cheaper and more lucrative to do things slowly with several “grey companies” subcontracting, not paying workers, issue fake invoices, then to deal with the army or police.

      • jin

        are you dump? they arent breaking down the building here. how cna you break down a freaking building with a excavator ON TOP of it?

        • coala banana

          did i say that they are breaking down the building ? I just said that it was most likely never their intention to make this project work. From my experience it was done just to make money on low cost construction which was probably invoiced 100 times the real value.

          BUT, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they really try to break down the whole building from the top downwards with an excavator. I am an engineer and while i wouldn’t do it that way, it can be certainly done this way. I mean, look at the dangerous position of the excavator, people who found that reasonable most likely have no problem at all to demolish floor by floor top to bottom. As you can see in the pics, the rubble is just been thrown down. Once the floor is cleared, they start to remove the roof by 3/4, then the crane lifts the excavator down to remove the rest of the roof (1/4), and so on…that way 12 floors can be demolished in around 4-5 days. Labour is still so cheap in china that it makes sense.

          In case you are a chinese, you must have been walking around this country with closed eyes. I am just 7 years here and what i see in this pics doesn’t even come close to other stupidities i have witnessed so far in this country.

          Don’t ask me why they do certain things in a certain way, but once i have ordered marble floor plates for around 1500m2 office space. The truck arrived, but when we wanted to use a forklift(assuming that all plates have to be on pallets) we realized that all plates were just laid on the trucks platform piece by piece. Now every half reasonable person would ask why they don’t put them on pallets, since the work to load them by hand is anyway the same. That remains a mystery, fact is that around 1/3 of the plates arrived broken. In addition that the 2 truck drivers had to unload the plates piece by piece (around 3000 plates), they had to come again 2 times more, to replace the broken ones again.

          China is confusing and things doesn’t make sense, but even with their destructive nature, irrational behavior, unskillful labour and workmanship, no sense for quality or social responsibility, there is still good money to make in this country :-), you just don’t have to take things seriously, and let them do certain things their own way., as long as its their own money and their own time and their own material they loose, break, waste and steal. Dumb things happen even in 1st world countries, so what you expect from the 3rd world ?

          • UkExPaT

            I totally agree!

          • pete

            Cut twice, measure once. It saves having some smelly intellectual around to do the thinking.

  • Jesus

    Stupid! I worked in civil engineering company before. This is not the way to do it!

    • robin yates

      there must be a reason why they cannot demolish using explosives. Using an excavator fitted with a breaker or a concrete nibbler is common practice in the west

      • mr. weiner

        None the less Robin there is no bloody way I’d want to be up there operating that thing.

        • ACE

          Oh YES! Whiner,you’ll be up there toiling soon! Just watch this video and can’t wait a second to kick your arse. america IS FUCKED and that’s why so many white trash(like you) are hiding in Asia.


          • mr. weiner

            Thanks Ace, but I’m not American. BTW doesn’t it disturb you that you are in complete agreement with a bunch of right wing republicans? very “white trash” of you, can I call you Billy Bob from now on?

      • Rod

        It takes longer this way. That means more people are busy. What else would all the unskilled workers in China do if there weren’t 12 hour working day year round on projects that will never get finished or once finished will be demolished and started again?

        I once saw a digger moving dirt from one side of the road to another. Kind of like that.

        • coala banana

          i soon realized that short after my arrival to china. Trying to import some automated machines for a government project, they blocked the shipment and send the machines back to europe. They usually just give you a certain target they would like to achieve, but with the requirement that everything is done in china by chinese labour. Space and manpower was never the problem.

          I was always asked: how many thousand people you need ? we have many ! how much space ? we will build it !

          In china things can be amazingly fast OR amazingly slow, depending on the particular interests at a particular time of the guys which make the decisions and how much money is involved for them ! Some projects must be finalized ASAP, while the intention in other projects was not to make them work in the first place.

  • Berry Halls

    I am a crane operator in the west and I’ve done this exact type of work. The crane arm is used to lift the machine up the building – floor by floor.

    Demolishing a building from the top down is the fastest and cleanest method to take it down.

    It is the latest method of demolition, developed because explosives required too much sweeping to cleanup all the dust.

    • whichone

      And when the excavator is finished with a particular level is a crane used to lower it to the next level or does it manage to descend by itself somehow?

      (By the way thank you for the genuinely informative comment.)

      • Berry Halls

        A sky hook is used so the answer to your question is yes.

        • deputamadre

          If it’s finished with a level wouldnt that level be reduced to rubble and the excavator already be on the lower level?

          • whichone

            I am so retarded, I thought the excavator couldn’t demolish the ground of the level it is standing on, but on second thought it seems quite possible.

    • Rod

      Wow. I guess I feel silly now jumping in on the “How dumb are you China?!” chatter. Looks like they know what they’re doing.

      • coala banana

        they now how to do it, but that doesn’t mean that they do it right by keep all safety measures in mind, limiting the risks. Looking at the pics, yes they do it, but knowing them, i am sure they don’t give a shit a about safety and health.

        • UkExPaT

          In China, even well educated folks don’t give a sh*t about health and safety, or seem lacking in common sense when it come to it. I know this from my last job in a foreign company’s Chinese R&D centre. Despite clear guidelines on personal protection, some of the chemistry researchers (with masters or PhD degrees) there didn’t bother wearing lab coat, gloves or safety glasses.

          It is sometimes very difficult to understand Chinese people or their social behaviours.

          • Alan

            I would agree.

            Mobile phone towers INSIDE schools, smoking everywhere (despite no smoking signs!), and zero enforcement of safety regs in the workplace.

            Maybe in the UK we have gone too far in the nanny state direction, but I prefer that to ignorance….

          • coala banana

            remembers me when i bought dust masks for people in one of the factories i build up. Bought dust masks for the painters, and nice workshoes with steel caps for everyone (all from my own pocket, since the chinese owners didn’t want to spend money on such senseless stuff). I also built working tables for the welders and bought tables and chairs for the assembly department. After one months i passed by to have a look and was surprised to hear that the chinese owners send back the dust masks to the supplier (they were just 2 rub each), none of the workers was wearing the protection shoes, cause they preferred to wear their cheap-black-shiny street shoes with white socks. And no one was using the tables and chairs i made for them to make their lives easier. The welders and other workers preferred to keep crawling on the floor holding parts in position with their shoes.

            Fights among each others were quite common, especially when one of them was from another province. When one was fired, he came back with 10 friends with steel pipes and hacksaws. I also remembered that one of the women workers was pregnant, she was beat in the stomach by the HR manager. One week before that, the HR managers brother was stabbed to death in a bar in ShenZhen.

            Even i have been through worst in my career, china seems to be the only place where people are not willing to improve. Even they realize that they do it wrong, the chances that they will do it different the next time, are very small. Most likely they will do it again and again the very same wrong way.

            Talking about “face”, most likely they do it wrong again knowing that its wrong, its still better then to do it right knowing that this would show that they did it wrong all the time. While i understand that, i can’t understand it when it comes to loosing money, decreasing safety, health and security, for the sake of ones ego and “face”, especially when others, as a consequence, have to suffer too under such irrational dumb behavior.

            Now after 7 years, I just fire them. As long as they are wasting their own money and time, i don’t mind. In the moment i loose money, time, nerves, or other peoples safety and health is in danger, then I just kick them out.

          • chinese

            thats because you are from uk and we chinese dont understand why you people always get drunk, watch football, start shouting around get into bar fights.

          • Any country has behaviour which is hard for outsiders to understand.

            For instance, it is hard for an outsider in the UK to understand why the people there do not cover themselves in the winter when it’s cold. This is not inconsequential. I know of people in the North-East of England who’ve gone out in short sleeves in winter, got drunk, passed out in the open and almost lost a limb or died. Isn’t this showing a disregard for one’s own safety?

          • The Dude

            @Chinese: That would be because we’re ‘hard’.

            The way any empire creating warlike nation should be. No need to thank us for making Hong Kong so lovely for you by the way.

            @Jixiang: Have you been to Harbin recently? Same. Almost all Northern hemisphere people like hard drinking and fighting. It’s because it gets too boring without much sun. Might as well get hammered and have a fight.

          • Beijing is in the Northern hemisphere and colder than anywhere in Britain, but people very definitely don’t go out in a t-shirt when it’s snowing, like what you see in England.

            Harbin is so much colder than Britain that it’s hard to make comparisons, if you went out without proper clothes in the winter you would probably die.

  • As for that first comment from Sina Weibo, I keep thinking back to the movie the Princess Bride:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-b7RmmMJeo (about :49)

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • WGH

    Only in China…

    • Stimpy

      If you read comments elsewhere in this thread, clearly not.

  • markx

    There are some pretty clever operators out there.

    I don’t know how it got up there, but it is perfectly capable of going down floor by floor.

    Here is a good drive getting a big machine off a small truck:

    This one climbs into a (very tall!) rail car:

  • FYIADragoon

    And that is why you go to university. So that you don’t spend your life depending on money from a dangerous job like this. Unless you get a kick out of that sort of feeling, of course.

  • joule
  • ACE

    The BEST Video about how america is DOOMED and China is taking over.



    haha Darwinism at it’s finest…..

  • coala banana
  • Eric

    can’t you see it is photoshopped? Look how it is always in the same position and from the same angle.

  • Meh

    That is a terrible idea. What were they thinking seriously putting that there?

  • owned

    obviously spiderman used his web powers to get it up

    • The Dude


  • Magda Carter






    Pogo stick?

    Carefully manipulated explosives?

    Carefully manipulated farts?




    Millions of tiny feet?



    Inception (BWOMMMM)?


  • Crazy, drunk excavator driver shows his skill to drive got up there while he was drinking with his friends at the hotel.

  • lou

    that is a photoshoped picture!

  • xiaopengyou

    What happens when it runs out if fuel?

    • xiaopengyou


  • bscalled


  • KkK

    Here’s a site with more information on this type of demolition.


  • Benjamin


  • This also happens in Japan too! I took a few photos of building being demolished in Tokyo with this method. Just cause it looks strange does not mean it is! Here is link with photos: http://sketchtosku.com/shadyfred/?p=903

  • Pingback: High Anxiety: Rooftop Excavators Tear Down from Up Top | WebUrbanist()

  • These excavators can literally pull themselves up through the building, floor by floor, using the scoop as a “hand” to grip the floor above and pull itself up; I have see it done numerous times.

  • Velveeta Chavez

    Spoiler alert- The excavator fell. People died. The end.