Moving Buildings

Have you ever seen a stone building moving? If you are in downtown Auckland today, you could watch the Birdcage hotel moving very very slowly to a place about 40m away. The move began yesterday but the hotel moves at about 1.5m an hour so it is taking a long time. The hotel is moving because machines will soon be digging to build the Victoria Park tunnel. The Victoria Park tunnel will take cars on the motorway north to the harbour bridge. When the digging is finished, the hotel will move back again, on top of the tunnel.

The hotel weighs 740 tonnes and is two storeys. It is moving uphill, along concrete beams, a bit like thick railway lines. The cost of moving it will be $2.5m but this is a heritage building, built 124 years ago. New Zealand does not have many old buildings left so Aucklanders want to keep this one.

Listen to May 9 2010 for more about heritage buildings.

This is not the first heavy building to be moved in New Zealand. In 2006, the Waihi pumphouse, in Coromandel, was moved 300m south and then west along beams. It took 3 months to move. The concrete pumphouse is three storeys high and weighs 1840 tonnes. It was built in 1904 to pump water out of the underground gold mine. Today the gold mine is an open cast mine. The ground underneath the building was not stable because of the old mine underneath it and the building started to tip to one side. The people of Waihi wanted to keep the old building although it is not used today.

If you are interested in seeing photos of the move, go to their website

The first heavy building to be moved was the Museum Hotel in Wellington in 1993. This concrete building weighed 3,500 tonnes and was five storeys high. The new Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, needed that site so the building was moved across the road and then 90 degrees for another short journey, a total of 120m. It was put on wheels like train wheels and then on tracks like railway tracks. It moved at 5 to 10m an hour and took two days. It was not an old building but the owner wanted to keep it.

If you are interested in seeing pictures of the move, go to their website. There is also a short video.

The cost of moving heavy buildings is very high. Is it a good idea to spend this money on keeping the buildings?
Listen to these details and write them down: the names of the buildings, location, age, weight, height, distance moved, speed, time it took, cost.

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