Boosting Safety to New Heights with Self-Climbing Cocoon

In 2008, AECOM Tishman pioneered the use of a safety system known as a “cocoon” to protect workers and the public during the construction of steel towers. Wrapped around the highest floors of the building, the system fully encloses the perimeter with pre-fabricated steel mesh panels installed on a lightweight steel rail system.

The structure incorporates walkways for workers and netting to capture small debris. As the building gets higher, the system is raised in sequence with construction so that it continues to protect workers at the top of the structure.

While being able to raise the cocoon is a key asset of the system, the original version required significant labor and time to detach, lift manually with a crane and reattach at the new elevation, a process known as a “jump.”

Now, to save time and labor, AECOM is adopting the 2.0 version of the cocoon — a self-climbing system powered by hydraulic lift. Whereas original versions of construction cocoons took 16 hours, 14 workers and 16 crane picks to make one jump, self-climbing versions can make a jump four times faster, using 57-percent less manpower. In addition, the next-generation cocoon rises on its own – no cranes needed.

Self-climbing cocoons can make a jump four times faster, using 57% less manpower

AECOM Tishman is implementing one such system, known as the S.C. Kokoon, on a project in New York City. Developed by Italian engineering firm, DESPE S.p.A., the S.C. Kokoon won the Process Innovation of the Year award at the 2018 New York Build Expo and was described by Brookfield Properties’ Head of Construction, Henry Caso, as “the Ferrari of cocoons” (Engineering News-Record, December 2017).

“We’re not content to just be the first contractor to use a cocoon system. We continue to push the construction industry to improve upon these innovations,” said Jay Badame, president of building construction, AECOM.

The continued refinement of these vital systems is leading to safer jobsites, delivered more efficiently.

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