On the move in Switzerland

Monday 28 May 2012

123-year-old building in Zurich moved 60m to enable expansion of neighbouring station

In a dramatic feat of engineering, an 80m-long commercial building in Zurich has been relocated in its entirety, 60m to the left of its original position. The 123-year-old redbrick Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO) was once a factory for the manufacture of tool machinery, weapons and electric locomotives however its recent owner ABB had announced plans to pull the aging building down.

Following a public petition to save the structure, the MFO was taken on by new owners Swiss Prime Site who pledged to fund a relocation of the old management building, preserving the much-loved MFO and enabling Swiss Federal Railways to undertake an expansion project at Switzerland’s seventh largest railway station, Zurich Oerlikon, situated nearby. The estimated cost of the relocation operation stands at CHF12m (€10m).

Preliminary works began back in July 2011 when the supporting basement walls were carefully replaced with steel pillars and a concrete plate with tracks on top was constructed under the building. Eventually the building itself was attached to specially-created carriages ready for relocation. The engineer in charge was Rolf Iten.

On Tuesday last week, hydraulic presses began to shift the building at a rate of four metres per hour, gently moving the 6,200 tonne structure in a westerly direction on 500 steel wheels mounted on six displacement tracks. The hydraulic presses were repositioned every 60cm with each cycle taking approximately seven minutes. Over a span of two days, entire management building was transferred 60m to its new position which will permit the planned expansion by the Swiss Federal Railways. Deconstruction works are now underway and it is thought that the building will be ready for use again by November 2012.

Speaking on the incredible feat of engineering, Peter Lehmann, Chief Investment Officer of Swiss Prime Site AG, said: “We have around 200 properties valued at CHF8.2bn (€6.8bn) but we have never approached a building in our portfolio in such an unconventional way before. It fills us with pride and satisfaction that the seemingly impossible has become a reality.”

Sian Disson
News Editor

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