A Study on the Design Possibilities Enabled by Rope-Less, Non-Vertical Elevators Project

From the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Project Started: September 2016
Anticipated Project Completion: September 2018
Funding Sponsor: thyssenkrupp AG
Principal Investigators: Dario Trabucco, CTBUH and Antony Wood, CTBUH
The CTBUH research project, “A Study on the Design Possibilities Enabled by Rope-less, Non-vertical Elevators,” has received $264,000 in funding from thyssenkrupp AG to embark on an ambitious 24-month comprehensive study. The research will investigate how technological innovation in elevators, specifically rope-less non-vertical cabins, could impact the design outcomes of tall buildings and cities. The study seeks to remove the evolutionary bottleneck created by exclusively vertical elevator systems, as conventional systems to date have limited the height and influenced the shape of skyscrapers, which have historically been designed as a vertical repetition of floors.

To support this research, a Steering Committee and various Expert Panels were formed, which will be crucial for generating and evaluating the final results of this research.

Funding Sponsor
Project Milestones
2017, June: Rope-Less, Non-Vertical Elevators Project Second Research Meeting
2016, August: Kick-off Meeting
After the birth of the elevator, over 150 years ago, it has seen significant changes in speed, automation, and energy efficient motors. Despite these changes, the basic concept of the elevator has not changed; they are still a cabin that moves vertically through a shaft, pulled by a rope under tension. The elevator is the underlying DNA of tall buildings, and tall buildings owe their success and evolution to this transport system. However, the evolutionary bottleneck of vertical elevator systems has created limitations in the design and shape of tall buildings.

What would happen if a rope-less elevator cabin, able to move in the horizontal direction, became possible? How could the application of such a system affect the design of tall buildings and, to a greater extent, the design of contemporary cities?

thyssenkrupp AG will soon introduce an innovative rope-less elevator system, MULTI, to the market, whose possibilities will be investigated during this two-year research project, also with the support of experts in various fields of tall building design.

This new elevator system would align succinctly with the proliferation of connections between buildings through skybridges. Tall buildings such as the Petronas Towers, Marina Bay Sands, and  Linked Hybrid are prime examples of this trend.

Skybridges in tall buildings. Left to Right: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur; Marina Bay Sands, Singapore; Linked Hybrid, Beijing.
Could a rope-less system accommodate this trend, providing new tools for designers, perhaps better suited to meet the needs of today? What challenges (structural, operational, etc.) will these new types of buildings have? What benefits (transportation, evacuation, business, social, etc.) will this bring to cities?

Will utopic cities, envisioned by futurists and historians (e.g., Corbett, Rummell, Hilberseimer, Sant’Elia), become closer to reality in the near future?

The aim of this research is to retrace the evolution of the elevator and its relation to the design of tall buildings. Moreover, thanks to the support of the Steering Committee and the Expert Panels, together with the representative team of thyssenkrupp AG, the research group will uncover the challenges, possibilities, and eventual limits and solutions to the application of rope-less elevators in new designs.

With the help and support of key researchers and practitioners in the field, this research will produce a comprehensive study of the possibilities enabled by rope-less non-vertical elevator systems and the downstream effects that such an application could produce in the design of tall buildings and cities.

This undertaking represents yet another CTBUH organizational member-funded research project, indicating the unmatched capacity of the Council to explore the most intricate aspects of tall building design.


Contact Information
For more information or any questions, please contact: research@ctbuh.org



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