Shanghai Building Walks to New Location


To make space for a new commercial and office complex, crews in Shanghai’s eastern Huangpu district “walked” an historic school building to avoid demolition.

The decision is an example of the city’s latest efforts to preserve historic structures.

On the Move

When plans for a new commercial and office complex were announced, only one thing stood in the way of the project: the Lagena Primary School. Constructed in 1935, the 85-year-old building was constructed by the municipal board of Shanghai's former French Concession.

According to reports, the last few decades have shown a rapid modernization across China. However, with the changes came concerns about losing the country’s architectural heritage. As a result of the concerns, some cities have since launched various preservation and conservation campaigns, which occasionally approved the relocation of old buildings.

Most recently in the case of the Lagena Primary School, crews utilized a robotic-leg-like technology, created by Shanghai Evolution Shift in 2018. According to Lan Wuji, chief technical supervisor of the project, engineers attached nearly 200 mobile supports under the five-story building.

"It's like giving the building crutches so it can stand up and then walk," Wuji said.

To do so, crews first had to dig around the building in order to install the mobile supports in space underneath the structure. Once pillars of the building were truncated, the robotic legs were then extended upward, lifting the building before “walking” could commence.

After being raised, the supports—working in two separate groups—alternatively were raised up and down, much like the human stride. Whilst in motion, sensors attached to the supports helped control how the building was moving forward.

The 203-foot journey took approximately 18 days and included rotating the building 21 degrees. The historic building is slated to become a center for heritage protection and cultural education, while the new complex being built at its original site is expected to reach completion by 2023.

Local governments report that this was the first time the walking technology was used to move a building in Shanghai. However, it was not the first time for the country.


Tagged categories: AS; China; Commercial / Architectural; Historic Preservation; Maintenance + Renovation; Preservation; Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Renovation; Technology

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