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Moving house Historic building rolls downhill

A 140-year-old mansion in northeast Switzerland has been moved 20 metres downhill. Swiss television went behind the scenes of the spectacular operation. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The historic Jakob mansion in St Gallen had to make space for the construction of an old people’s home. 

Some 2,700 tonnes of material had to be shifted millimetre by millimetre along steel tracks with the aid of hydraulic presses. For engineer Rolf Iten and his company, the operation on Wednesday was a special challenge: the new location lies on a lower level. In order to prevent the mansion from sliding downhill out of control, a special breaking mechanism had to be installed.

The operation took months of planning and preparation. The basement had to be removed and replaced by stilts to support the building.

The operation attracted many spectators. Some locals wondered whether this was worth the high costs or whether the house should have been torn down. However, the mansion is protected and the owners were left with no choice.

The moving operation alone cost CHF2 million ($2.06 million). The mansion will be opened for hospice care in 2019.

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