Cities across the globe are witnessing vertical growth with skyscrapers replacing older buildings to accommodate more people in less space. And China seems to be doing so intelligently.
In its latest effort to decongest Shanghai and at the same time preserve a heritage building, Chinese engineers successfully relocated an 85-year-old primary school spread over an area of 390,000-square-meter in 18 days.
The Lagena, or Rue Galle Elementary School, a five-storey T-shaped building, is an example of the advanced construction of its time. But recently the 7,600-ton structure had to be moved to make space for a commercial office complex.
The city residents were witness to an unusual sight as a state-of-the-art “walking machine” technology, which mimics human feet, moved the building with nearly 200 mobile supports.
Lan Wuji, the chief technical supervisor of the project, told CNN that “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 said workers had to dig around the building to install the 198 mobile supports in the spaces underneath. “After the pillars of the building were truncated, the robotic ‘legs’ were then extended upward, lifting the building before moving forward”, according to the CNN report.
He told reporters that the building was rotated 21 degrees and moved 62 meters (203 feet) away to its new location. Built in 1935 by the Municipal Council of the former Shanghai French Concession, the building was used as a school until 2018.
According to the authorities, La Lagena will be used for “the protection of intangible cultural heritage, cultural education, as well as the incubation of culture and innovation”.
Even though this is the first time that Shanghai has used the “walking machine” method to relocate the building, but definitely not the first time when a building has been moved in the city.
Shanghai is an example of heritage preservation as the city has a track record of relocating old buildings.
Earlier, the Shanghai Concert Hall was moved 66.5 meters and raised more than 3 meters in 2003. A three-storey structure of Minli High School completed its 57-meter course in February 2010. The Mahavira Hall, the main pavilion of the Jade Buddha Temple, was moved 30.7 meters to the north in September 2017.
Covering the longest distance, five historic buildings from Shanghai’s largest urban renewal project in Jing’an were moved a total of 2 kilometers in July this year.
Many historic buildings and monuments were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976) initiated by the Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. But following his death, the government granted “protected” status to a number of buildings.