Shanghai Primary school walks on mechanical legs to new location so the building can be preserved


Doing the school run! Primary school walks on mechanical legs to new location so the building can be preserved in its entirety in Shanghai

  • The Lagena primary school was first built in 1935 according to local officials
  • But a new construction project on the site will begin soon, completing in 2023
  • To save the building, 198 mechanical ‘legs’ were attached underneath the school
  • The whole building was then ‘walked’ 203 feet to its new location in Shanghai 

‘Doing the school run’ was given a whole new meaning by a primary school in China earlier this month, when the building walked on mechanical legs to a new location.

The 85-year-old building was lifted off the ground – in its entirety – and moved to a new location to be preserved using new technology dubbed the ‘walking machine’.

Its relocation is the latest in the city’s efforts to preserve historical structures.

The 85-year-old, five-story Lagena Primary School building, was lifted off the ground – in its entirety – and moved to a new location to be preserved using new technology dubbed the ‘walking machine’, which uses mechanical to ‘walk’ the building to its new location

In this case, engineers attached almost 200 mobile supports under the raised five-story building, according to chief technical supervisor on the project – Lan Wuji.

Acting like robotic legs, the supports – split into two groups – alternately rise up and down to imitate the human stride in order to the move the building forward, he explained to CNN.

‘It’s like giving the building crutches so it can stand up and then walk,’ Lan said. His company developed the new technology in 2018.

Workers first had to dig around the building in order to install the 198 supports in the space left underneath the school before it was raised fully off the ground and moved across the site

Workers first had to dig around the building in order to install the 198 supports in the space left underneath the school before it was raised fully off the ground and moved across the site

A timelapse of the building move shows the legs ‘walking’ the school – which can be seen fully intact and raised off the ground – across the building site.

Workers first had to dig around the building in order to install the 198 supports in the space left underneath the school, Lan said.

After the pillars of the building were cut, the robotic legs were extended upwards, lifting the building from the ground before moving it across the site.

Pictured: The mechanical legs underneath the building as it moves across the building site in Shanghai and one of the pillars that had to be cut before it could be lifted

Pictured: The mechanical legs underneath the building as it moves across the building site in Shanghai and one of the pillars that had to be cut before it could be lifted

The move took 18 days, during which the building was rotated 21 degrees and moved 203 feet (62 meters) to its new location, finally settling there on October 15, 

This was first time this method has been used in Shanghai to relocate an historic building, the statement from the local government said.

The building is set to become a centre for heritage protection and cultural education, CNN said. 

Acting like robotic legs, the supports - split into two groups - alternately rise up and down to imitate the human stride (pictured) to move the building. The move took 18 days, during which the building was rotated 21 degrees and moved 203 feet

Acting like robotic legs, the supports – split into two groups – alternately rise up and down to imitate the human stride (pictured) to move the building. The move took 18 days, during which the building was rotated 21 degrees and moved 203 feet

Lagena Primary School building was first constructed in 1935 by the municipal board of Shanghai’s former French Concession, according to a statement from the Huangpu district government.

The school was moved to make space for a new construction project on the site – a new commercial and office complex – that will be completed by 2023. 

Many historical buildings in China have been cleared to make way for brand new sky scrapers and office buildings in recent decades.

This has led to a growing concern in the country about architectural heritage being lost, with some cities launching new preservation and conservation campaigns to save buildings from demolition.

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