These Elevators Can Move Up, Down — and Side to Side
Say hello to real life version of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory elevator. For more than 160 years, elevators have gone up and down. But German company ThyssenKrupp AG, the country's largest steel producer, has designed the world’s first rope-less elevator system called Multi, which allows the elevators to travel both up and down and side to side. The company announced the concept for their new system back in 2014, and they recently announced that they will be testing the new concept in a facility in Rottweil, Germany, before creating the new elevators at OVG Real Estate’s new East Side Tower Building office tower in Berlin.
Multi uses magnetic levitation technology, known as maglev, that's similar to what's used in some railways, replacing the cables and allowing vehicles to float on the tracks rather than roll. With this technology, Multi elevators can follow a maglev track throughout a building, allowing for the elevator cabins to travel up one shaft (the tunnel the elevator is in) and down another in one continued loop system, similar to what it would be like if you had a metro system running within a building. The design allows for more than one cabin within each shaft, creating a system that the company says can increase the capacity of passengers by up to 50 percent — and significantly shorten waiting times for passengers.
“Buildings are becoming like vertical cities, and they need a flexible transport system similar to a metro; speed alone does not solve the challenges posed by tall buildings,” Markus Jetter, head of research for the company, states on ThyssenKrupp’s website. Since there is one cabin used per shaft in current elevator systems, traditional elevators can take up more space in a building, but Multi’s ability to move sideways also opens up new doors for architects to consider when designing future buildings.
“The ‘holy grail’ for elevators has been to move beyond being pulled vertically by a rope under tension — towards a system that allows movement in inclined or horizontal directions; Multi, more than any other project delivered to date, really shows the way forward for that potential,” Antony Wood, executive director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, said in a statement. “This has the capacity to transform the industry at large, changing the way tall buildings are designed, and allowing for much more efficient core designs, as well as better connectivity in buildings.”