A century-old, 3,800-tonne building in Shanghai was lifted off the ground in its entirety and relocated with the help of technology, dubbed the “walking machine.” The building was moved back to its original position on July 8, as part of a renovation project. It’s the largest and heaviest masonry structure transportation project in the city.
After precise measurement and calculation, sliding rails were set at the bottom of the building to push the 3,800-tonne building to the designated position.
3,800-ton century-old building slowly "walking" in Shanghaipic.twitter.com/fCeTbKpR7M— Zhang Meifang张美芳 (@CGMeifangZhang) July 10, 2022
In 2020, Shanghai moved another building using the same ‘walking’ technology when an 85-year-old five-storey primary school building in the city’s eastern Huangpu district was shifted.
The supports act like robotic legs. They’re split into two groups which alternately rise up and down, imitating the human stride. Attached sensors help control how the building moves forward, Lan Wuji, chief technical supervisor of the project had told CNN. “It’s like giving the building crutches so it can stand up and then walk,” he said.
Structural moving is the process of lifting an entire building from the 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 almost anything can be moved structurally, from old churches to nuclear reactors, the buildings that are moved are set apart by their weight and sometimes by the difficulty of movement. From telephone company headquarters to airport terminals, engineers have carried out unprecedented feats to preserve these structures.
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