Pushing Boundaries

Architectural Shift

MFO 006

What can you do if you have a historic building that is impeding the path of progress in the form of an expanded railway? If you are the Swiss company ABB, you simply decide to tear the thing down, not a very elegant solution. Plus, you run the risk of rousing the ire of the normally pleasant Swiss citizenry, who might just band together to, gasp, write a petition! This is indeed the situation that unfolded in Zurich last year, when the last remaining building from the Oerlikon machine factory, built in the latter part of the 19th century, was slated for demolition. Shown below, the complex was constructed by “Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO)”, who began manufacturing tool machinery, weapons and electric locomotives in 1876. Once all the signatures were counted up to save the building, ABB developed a different plan, working with new owner Swiss Prime Site and the Swiss Federal Railways to move the entire 260 foot long, 6,200 tonne 3 story structure nearly 200 feet out of the path of the new railroad. How you ask? Just like the Egyptians did it, with rollers! Well, maybe not just like, since the Egyptians probably did not have access to heavy duty hydraulic rams, but still, they put the entire building on rollers and slid it out of the way! Hit the jump for some time lapse video, and check out the Civil Engineering Bulletin for more detailed pictures and information.


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