Get thee over there: Fragile, 2,600-tonne nunnery moved whole in China

The Chinese subsidiary of Belgian heavy lift specialist Sarens has successfully moved a 2,600-tonne Catholic nunnery in the city of Jinan, Shandong province.

Sinotrans Sarens jacked up the building and rolled 10 self-propelled modular transporters underneath.

The unique cargo – 36m long, 16m wide and 16m high – then trundled 50m east, did a kind of three-point turn, and came to rest 26m north, rotated 20° clockwise off its original orientation.

  • Watch them move the nunnery:


China’s People’s Daily newspaper claimed the operation was "the biggest building ever to be moved in this way".

The reason for the shift was not given.

Built in 1893, the building, known as the Franciscan Missionary convent, was named a cultural relic protection site by local authorities.

The operation, conducted in June, was made more delicate by the fact that the 100-year-old structure is fragile, and could have cracked if transport wasn’t smooth.

To address the challenge, Sinotrans Sarens devised a strict transport standard involving no deviation greater than 10mm horizontally or 2mm vertically.

Image: The move under way (Sarens)

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  1. Looks like a house of Joy

  2. What a fantastic feat, I was aware of this amazing engineering possibility when I was studying for my HNC Building exam in the ‘60’s, the company was Pinfords Engineering, but I think in those days they were only moving houses! Even today people don’t realise that this is even possible – tomorrow the Empire State Building?

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