Watch These Maglev Elevators of the Future Soar High Into the Sky
If the London Eye’s iconic capsules were a high-tech transportation system, it would be the SkyPod.
(Not to be mistaken with the CN Tower’s observatory in Toronto, which is also called SkyPod.)
The brainchild of London-based firm PLP Architecture, SkyPod is a marriage of rollercoaster and elevators. The design has captivated Facebook in a video posted by GIGadgets, gathering almost 250,000 views, 2,500 shares, and 3,700 reactions in six hours. Lars Hesselgren, head of research at PLP Architecture, originally released the futuristic elevator design last June at the 22nd International Congress on Vertical Transportation Technologies.
How Elevators Can Level-Up
Since the invention of the safety break by Elisha Otis over 150 years ago, elevators have not fundamentally changed. Look down at the crack between the floor of an elevator before you exit, and you’ll probably see the name “Otis,” inscribed in metal, at your feet.
With the SkyPod, a project four years in the making, PLP Architecture seeks to liberate tall buildings from the traditional elevator. Instead of using one car dangling in a single shaft, the firm basically dreams of turning the track into a vertical maglev train and plastering it to the contours of a building. Commuters would call personal pods, stabilized like a gyroscope for maximum comfort, to take them to their destination. The firm hopes to integrate the 7- by 5-meter pods with subway systems for a seamless, multi-direction experience from home to cafe, to the office, zooming almost 900 meters in two minutes. (Think Willy Wonka’s elevator, but without the turbulence or Oompa Loompas hanging out nearby.)
“If current skyscrapers often feel monolithic, self-contained and sometimes indifferent to their context, SkyPod will allow for new types of buildings that, despite their height, are holistically integrated with the grain of the city around them,” the firm said in a statement.
Is the SkyPod Too Good to Be True?
PLP Architecture is known for its proposal of unusual designs that build on already-existing technologies. In this case, maglev and tracks. Despite the beautiful mockups, readers at GIGadgets remain skeptical, expressing concerns about wear and tear or natural disasters, since the elevators would be constantly exposed to the elements. Plus, since multiple pods share the track at high speeds, the slightest programming error could cause a disaster at unknown heights.
The SkyPod is part of a larger dream to one day build 1-km-tall buildings, which would be overqualified for the “megatall” moniker of buildings over 600m. (What are they going to call the next highest category? Bigmegatalls? Massimegatalls?) PLP Architecture reasons that without traditional elevators as a design constraint, buildings can take new, innovative shapes.
The first 1-km-tall building is already under construction in Saudi Arabia, set to open by 2020. Perhaps PLP Architecture’s dream of zooming around in personal pods isn’t as distant as its futuristic mockups seem to imply.
But the best underrated feature of the SkyPod? You never have to guess which side of the elevator will open ever again.