Shipping containers, cranes, and caterpillar trucks: this is how to move a building (+ video)

Text Rob van der Wal / Video Rianne Aalbers

Nijenborgh 4 will move to the new Feringa Building in the coming months. It’s an enormous operation.

Nijenborgh 4 was one of the first UG buildings constructed at Zernike in the 1960s. It has been home to physics and chemistry since 1969 and now, more than half a century later, it’s badly outdated.

Anyone walking through the building today almost trips over the pallets full of boxes and crates. There is only a sparse number of researchers in the physics and chemistry building; the corridors are the domain of the movers. They accompany the UG’s biggest move in years to the new Feringa Building.

Using their pallet jacks, the movers drag the dozens of pallets packed with boxes one by one. These go to the moving vans at one of the loading docks at the side of the building.

Ten times a day

Once the trucks are full, they are driven away to unload again a few hundred metres away in front of the main entrance of the new Feringa Building. They make these trips at least ten times a day.

The movers see a lot of stuff they don’t encounter every day, like the two-by-three-metre hydraulic tables. These are manoeuvred by a mover with the help of three colleagues, a caterpillar cart, and a crane into a shipping container on a truck with extreme precision.

It is a large metal hulk, but not the heaviest object being moved, he knows. ‘Sometime in the next few months we will be moving equipment that weighs at least two thousand kilos.’

Work continues

A few metres away from the loading dock, laboratory work is continuing as usual. ‘We’re not moving until April’, says a technician who is just there to look at the results of his measuring equipment.

For a researcher who does move, the day mostly involves walking back and forth between the old and new buildings, to make sure that moving expensive equipment goes according to plan and that everything goes well.

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