Innovation That Matters

Elevator infrastructure | Photo source PLP Architecture

New elevator design could disrupt city infrastructure

Travel & Tourism

A new elevator concept uses magnets and a rollercoaster-style rail design to enable greater degrees of freedom for transporting people, and more, around skyscrapers and across cities.

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It seems the endless minutes spent waiting for elevators to arrive has been inspiring more engineers. We’ve already covered the world’s first rope-free elevator and now, UK firm PLP Architecture is using a new system to create more adaptive elevator experiences.

PLP has proposed an innovative propulsion system based on the Maglev technology. This uses magnets to move the elevator car along its tracks, rather than the conventional pulley systems. Called SkyPod, the car will move along a set of rails that are capable of bending, like rollercoaster systems. Elevator cars will therefore be able to travel in every direction, like gyroscopes. In theory, this system could enable very rapid transport, although this will be limited to prevent discomfort for passengers. PLP believes that their system will open up vast possibilities in skyscraper design. The single up-and-down plane of conventional elevator designs has controlled how skyscrapers are constructed for over a century. With SkyPod, the cars could travel along the outsides of buildings, curving around all manner of shapes, and also travel horizontally between different zones.

Beyond intra-building transport, PLP believes the SkyPods could impact an entire city’s infrastructure. Users could embark on one side of the city and take a Skypod not only to their destination building, but also up the building to their meeting. SkyPod might not just be for transporting people, either. It can also be scaled up to transport cars and goods across a city.

Skyscrapers are an ever increasing presence across urban skylines. Innovations like PLP Architecture’s SkyPod can enable a paradigm shift in building design. Add this to other examples such as the implementation of vertical urban farms and buildings that self-regulate temperature by design, and our cityscapes could soon look very different. What other advancements could we see to standard skyscraper designs?




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