28 Jun 2024

The World's Most Unique Lifts

Lifts are a normal part of day to day life, we all have an idea of what one looks like yet that isn't true across the board. Let's take a look at some of the most weird and unique lifts from across the world!


Bailong Elevator: Zhangjiajie, China

The world's tallest outdoor lift on record, with a total height of 1,070 feet (326 metres), of which the lower 505 feet are embedded inside the mountain wall and the upper 565 feet consist of exposed steel derricks. Following a speed upgrade in 2015, the cars now travel to the top within 1 minute and 32 seconds; it would take on average, 68 minutes to free-climb the upper exposed section. There are 3 cars in total, each of which can carry a total of 4,900 kilogrammes (50 passengers). Not only is this the world’s tallest outdoor lift, but it's also the world’s tallest double-deck sightseeing elevator and the world’s fastest traffic elevator with the biggest carrying capacity!


Aquadom: The Radisson Blue Hotel, Germany

There was a spectacular glass lift system in operation at the hotel that enables visitors to experience the ascent through the aquarium. The cylindrical aquarium was filled with around one million litres of seawater. It contained 1,500 tropical fish, that included 56 different species. The acrylic glass cylinder that forms the structure of the aquarium was made in four pieces. It was constructed on site on top of 30 feet of concrete foundations. The remainder of the hotel was then built around the 25-metre-tall aquarium lift, making it perhaps one of the most interesting and complex hotel design constructions in the world.

So, what happened to this 25-meter-tall aquarium that was the first lift system of its kind? In December 2022 the acrylic glass cylinder suddenly ruptured and collapsed, miraculously only two people were hurt in the instance, but it was decided that it was best to not re-build. I wonder if we will see more aquarium lifts of this kind in the future?


The Falkirk Wheel: Falkirk, Scotland

The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s first and only rotating boat lift, designed and built to connect the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Union Canal which allows coast to coast navigation across central Scotland. The magnificent structure stands 115ft tall and requires only the power of eight domestic kettles to sail boats through the air and transfer them between the two canals. When one of the structure’s gondolas is lowered, the opposite one rises, keeping the vast, 1800 tonne boat lift in perfect balance as it carries canal barges 35 metres into the air in a matter of minutes. Incredibly, the structure uses just 1.5kWh for each rotation. The Falkirk Wheel has not only been described as a feat of engineering but, as a work of art and is now an iconic Scottish landmark attracting over 500,000 visitors a year!


Globen Skyview: Stockholm, Sweden

Unique Lift Designs

The Skyview is a glass-encased ball that travels up and down the curving sides of the Ericsson Globe. Skyview is a world-class attraction that takes you to the top of the world’s largest spherical building, the Avicii Arena, a Stockholm landmark. From the apex 130 meters (425 feet) above sea level, you get a fantastic view encompassing all of Stockholm. The two Skyview gondolas depart every 10 minutes, and the entire visit takes about 30 minutes. To give visitors this spectacular view, the gondolas is made from Perspex and a light steel construction – and air-conditioning and other technicalities have been hidden in the floor.


Mercedes-Benz Museum: Stuttgart, Germany

When the museum opened it's door in 2006, these 3 futuristic time capsules have been a mainstay. These elobarately designed cabins go against the grain as unlike normal passenger lifts, which travel in a shaft hidden from view, they glide up and down the 35 meter wall with the 14 cables and counterweights fully on display. Each journey takes 25 seconds with each cabin carrying up to 25 people. On the busiest days during the year, the 3 lifts can travel up to 44 kilometers with around 4000 visitors at the museum. In 2022 alone, it was estimated that all 3 made 225,000 journeys! 


What are some of the strangest lifts you've seen around the globe? What did we miss off our list? Let us know!

For over 170 years, we've been your trusted partner for lift maintenance, repair, installation and servicing. Get in touch with Pickerings today!

Find out how we can help