How 200 robotic legs moved a 7,600-ton school in China


In today’s world, in cities seeking to modernize, old buildings can be a barrier that prevents this change, this renovation, this ‘improvement’. What do you do with them? They can be preserved as a cultural interest, remodeled without losing their essence, demolished without thinking about their legacy. Or they can also move, as they have done in Shanghai, China, a city in which they have moved a historic structure, which by the way weighs 7,600 tons.

Lagena Rue Galle Elementary School

Built in 1935 by the Municipal Council of the former Shanghai French Concession, La LAGENA or Rue Galle Elementary School is a huge five-story T-shaped building that represented the best construction technique of its time. It was used as a school building until 2018, when Bi Le High School was relocated. Suddenly, the 85-year-old school was an obstacle to progress. And either it collapsed, or it moved.

After taking the second option, it was decided that La Lagena should be moved to the center of Huangpu district. And for this, the usual caterpillars formed by dozens of wheels have not been used, but something more different and curious: robotic legs.

A walking machine

To protect the historic structure during the move, a state-of-the-art “walking machine” that mimics human feet was used to move and rotate the building under the guidance of experts in historic building protection. About 200 supports, or feet, were installed underneath the building to lift and move the 7,600-ton structure to its new location in 18 days.

The innovative method shortened the schedule by 20% compared to traditional relocation methods via rails, according to the construction company. Once in its new location and after a preservation project, La Lagena will be used for “the protection of intangible cultural heritage, cultural education, as well as the incubation of culture and innovation”.

When completed in 2023, the business and office complex, which covers a total area of ​​35,000 square meters in the vicinity of Huaihai Road M., will comprise an integrated center of offices and commercial and residential properties in Taipingqiao

Moving buildings around Shanghai

The move of the old school is the latest in a series of relocations the city is undertaking of its historic buildings, to avoid being razed as a result of urban renewal:

– In 2003, the Shanghai Concert Hall was moved 66.5 meters and raised more than 3 meters to make way for the construction of the Yan’an Causeway.

– Minli High School, a three-story structure, completed its 57-meter course in February 2010 to make way for a commercial project.

– In September 2017, the Mahavira Hall, the main pavilion of the Jade Buddha Temple, moved 30.7 meters to the north.

– An old block of flats, one of the oldest sites in the city, was moved about 50 meters from its original address at 104 Jiangpu Road in 2019 to make way for the construction of the Jiangpu Road tunnel. under the Huangpu River.

– In July this year, five historic buildings from Shanghai’s largest urban renewal project in Jing’an were moved a total of 2 kilometers, the longest move and the longest distance to date.

A shopping center

And what was the reason for moving La Lagena from its site? Why was it necessary to change it? Well, because in the space that was occupied, a commercial and office complex of 390,000 square meters will be created. And it is that nothing stops progress, much less history.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here