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Shanghai’s century-old 3,800-tonne building ‘walks’ to its original location; Video

A 3,800-tonne building in Shanghai was moved back to its original position. The building was lifted off the ground and relocated using new technology dubbed the ‘walking machine’. It is by far one of the largest and heaviest masonry structure transportation projects in the city. Interestingly, the workers managed to move the building in one piece.

Engineers have used the process of structural moving – lifting an entire building from its foundation and moving it elsewhere. It is an increasingly common way to preserve historic buildings that might otherwise be razed to make way for development. It’s also a way to place a building in a safer location if it’s threatened by flooding.

While practically anything architecturally may be transported, from old cathedrals to nuclear reactors, the structures that are moved are distinguished by their weight and, in certain cases, the difficulty of relocation. Engineers have performed incredible feats to preserve these facilities, from telephone company offices to airport terminals.

A 7,600-tonne building was moved to a new location in a technological first for the city of Shanghai. Over the course of 18 days, the structure was rotated 21 degrees and moved 62 meters (203 feet) away. The building, originally named the Lagena Primary School, was constructed in 1935. It was moved in order to make space for a new commercial and office complex, which will be completed by 2023.

In November 1930, in Indiana, United States, a team of architects and engineers moved an 11,000-tonne (22-million pound) telephone exchange. The relocation involved shifting the massive building inch by inch 16 meters south, before rotating 90 degrees, and shifting again, 30 meters west. This allowed room for the construction of a seven-story limestone structure in its place that was consequently erected as the company headquarters in 1932.

An airport terminal, Building 51, in Newark was moved at a cost of $6 million. It was one of the United States’ first passenger terminals. Building 51 became office space and eventually faced extinction. It took five months to move the whole building, which had to be cut into three separate pieces.

San Antonio’s Fairmount Hotel, built-in 1906, was once a luxurious place to stay for railroad passengers. However, by the 1980s, the three-storey, Victorian-style hotel had fallen out of favour and was in a dilapidated state. The city developers wanted to demolish the hotel because it stood in the path of a new shopping mall. In 1985, under the guidance of the San Antonio Conservation Society, the building was moved five blocks from its original location and lifted onto 36 dollies with pneumatic tires.


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