Lifts are part of everyday life for many people – we may use them in shops, to reach our office, or even in the home. We’re so used to them that the average person doesn’t tend to think much about their design – but the fact is, there are some very odd and fascinating lifts in use around the world today!
First designed and used in the 19th century, Paternoster or cyclic lifts operate in constant motion; they use a number of cabins in a chain, which go up the building, loop over at the top, go back down, and loop under at the bottom. Users are expected to step on and off as they need to. Naturally, this is not exactly useful for disabled users, or indeed for anybody carrying heavy luggage, and safety concerns mean that this kind of lift is increasingly rare. In the UK, there is one still in use in the Attenborough Building at the University of Leicester, where travelling over the top or under the bottom is said to be something of a rite of passage.
This is not so much a different design for a lift as it is a different way of operating them. Because Jewish law requires observers to abstain from operating electric switches on the Sabbath (amongst other restrictions), in some areas with large Jewish populations you may find special Sabbath lifts. Rather than having to press the button for the floor you want, when in Sabbath mode the lift operates constantly, stopping and opening its doors for a set time at every floor in turn, allowing the user to step on and off without actually operating the lift. However, some have criticised this design because users will still indirectly violate the Sabbath restrictions, and because of the energy wastage involved.
Many cyclists are familiar with this problem; that one hill that’s just a bit too steep for you to cycle up easily, or at least too difficult for you to cycle up without breaking into a terrible sweat. We aren’t all Bradley Wiggins, after all. In Trondheim, Norway, they have a solution, with the world’s first bicycle lift. It’s called the Trampe or the Cyclocable, and it works on a similar principle to ski-lifts – you put your right foot out onto a footplate, which moves up the 130m Brubakken hill and pushes you along with it. You can see how it works in this video.
Elevator in a Fish Tank
At the DomAquarée complex in Berlin, which also contains the Radisson Blu Hotel and the Berlin Sea Life Centre, there is a 25 metre tall aquarium, containing 1,000,000 litres of water, over 1,500 fish – and a lift which can carry up to 48 people (including the guide) right through the middle of the tank. It’s a wonderful way to see the fish up close, but here at Axess 2 we can’t help but be impressed at the engineering involved in the lift itself!
On board the MS Oasis of the Seas, a luxury Caribbean cruise ship, there is a lift which is also a bar – the Rising Tide. If this sounds enough to make you queasy, let us reassure you – it moves at a soothingly slow pace, taking eight minutes to rise just two stories. We’re still not sure that’s enough time to finish your cocktail, however!
The Space Elevator
This is one that doesn’t yet exist, except as a theory. However, it’s certainly a fascinating one! The idea is that, one day, we will be able to step into a lift on Earth and travel up in it to a station in space. At the moment, we don’t have the technology to create it; we don’t have materials strong enough, and we would have to find a way to overcome dangers from vibration and space debris. However, some scientists think that we could be well on the way to overcoming at least the first issue as early as 2035 – and from there, who knows, one day we could be able to hop on a lift to the moon!
Whether you’re looking for something simple and practical or something out of the ordinary, here at Axess 2 we offer a great range of versatile and flexible platform lifts, passenger lifts and service lifts – contact us on 01200 405 005 for more information.