Massive Zurich building completes 19-hour trip

In the largest undertaking of its kind in Europe, a 6,200-tonne building has successfully shifted in one piece 60 metres westward after a 19-hour journey. The old management building of the former machine factory Oerlikon in Zurich had to make way for some new railway tracks.

This content was published on May 23, 2012 - 16:16

The brick building is 123 years old and is the last relic of Oerlikon’s 19th-century industrial zone. In 1876, the Oerlikon machine factory “Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO)” began manufacturing tool machinery, weapons and electric locomotives.

When its recent owner ABB announced plans to tear it down, the public handed in a petition to save it, emphasising its cultural importance for the region. Together with the new owner Swiss Prime Site and the Swiss Federal Railways, ABB came up with the alternative plan to have the entire building moved in one piece.

Preparation on the site started ten months ago (as shown in animation in video). Supporting basement walls had to be replaced by steel pillars. A concrete plate with tracks on top was constructed under the building. Finally the building was placed on special carriages.

On May 22, the moving began at 11.00am. Hydraulic presses moved it four metres per hour.

The 80-metre long building reached its new location at 4.03pm on Wednesday. (SF/Swiss Prime Site/

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