Extravagant Elevators: See The World’s 11 Most Unique | Architectural Digest

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Extravagant Elevators: See The World’s 11 Most Unique  | Architectural Digest

By Nadja Sayej and Noelann Bourgade

Rarely, if ever, is the design of an elevator central to the aesthetics of a building. Yet rules are made to be broken, which is why certain elevators are much more than a means of transportation. Some are exceptional, with wild designs, and go far beyond your typical towers. Found in both urban and natural landscapes, they offer spectacular, striking views of built cities and the ocean abyss. Below, AD surveys the 11 most extravagant elevators around the world. One stretches to the top of a mountainside, while another is painted gold and dates back to the 19th century. If nothing else, these engineering marvels will prove that—sometimes—pressing a button is better than taking the stairs.

Overlooking the harbor in the city of Bahia, Brazil, this historic piece of architecture built in 1873 is Brazil's first ever elevator. Initially a hydraulic elevator, the 236-foot-tall urban elevator links the commercial center of the lower town to the historic upper town. In 1906 the lift was converted to electricity, then was given an aesthetic makeover in 1930, producing the unique art deco exterior its now known for. Clinging to the cliffside, the 27-foot-tall lift offers a stunning view of the city and lights up at night in a rainbow of colors

In the heart of Lisbon, Portugal, this elevator (also known as the Carmo Lift) is a symbol of the city’s industrial past. Made of iron, an exciting new material in construction at the time the neo-Gothic elevator was built, it rises to a height of 148 feet. Covered in wood paneling with brass fittings, the elevator cabins ascend to a belvedere level where passengers can take in the breathtaking panoramic view of the capital’s historic heart.

This 1,070-foot-tall outdoor elevator is known as the Hundred Dragons Elevator and is set along the rocky Zhangjiajie mountains in China’s Hunan Province. Similar to Willy Wonka’s glass elevator, this steel and glass elevator can travel in less than two minutes, all the while offering a stunning view of the nearby nature. As the world’s tallest outdoor elevator, the unique vessel has even made cameos in films such as James Cameron’s Avatar. Famed for its height, it was built over the course of five years and cost $20 million.

High up in the Swiss Alps, sits one of the world’s most extravagant elevators, which transports guests to a stunning view of the mountains and saves a climb up 500 feet. The small, rectangular elevator was initially designed in 1905 and has been redesigned twice to speed up its gears. Classified as the tallest outdoor elevator in Europe, the $14.8 million construction can carry a dozen people at a time. Besides the mountains, Switzerland’s fourth largest lake, Lucerne, is down below.

The Tauchgondeln, or “dive gondolas,” are four 50-ton elevators, all located on Germany’s Baltic coast, that descend to the bottom of the sea on an exciting—if brief—adventure. Watertight and bell-shaped, these elevators that are becoming must-see tourist attractions offer the chance to observe an underwater world (though be forewarned that the Baltic water can often be murky with limited visibility). The turquoise-colored capsules, which can accommodate up to 30 passengers, have a retro Victorian style though they all opened between 2006 and 2013.

This unique elevator is set inside of an 82-foot-tall cylinder-shaped aquarium in Berlin’s Sea Life Center. It means that the elevator rides throughout the core of this round aquarium without ever touching the water. The aquarium features over 1,500 fish from 97 different species and cost $17.4 million to build in 2004.

The Avicii Arena, a public performance space in Sweden’s capital that can accommodate over 16,000 spectators, claims the title of the world’s largest spherical building. Two glass gondolas, the Skyview Ericsson Globes, ride on rails up the outside of the arena while passengers enjoy sweeping 360-degree views of the islands of the Stockholm Archipelago. The seven-ton gondolas can carry up to 21 visitors at a time to the top of the arena at a height of 425 feet above sea level.

It's not only the sleek cars at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart that draws people to the south of Germany. This minimal, concrete-clad building also has a pill-shaped elevator. It gives guests a space-age experience, as standing inside of the metal pod, which scales the concrete, is a spectacular ride when gazing through its tiny rectangular window.

Set at the heart of a winding steel staircase, this roofless elevator is an artwork in itself. The hydraulic lift carries up to 10 passengers from the basement to the top floor, all the while offering a view of Paris's most popular museum lobby.

At the top of this blocky building on the island of Noord (a section within Amsterdam), there is a pleasant treat in the form of a 22nd floor rooftop sky deck. Designed by creative agency The Stone Twins, this square elevator leaves no awkward moments between passengers, as the flashing neon lights and synchronized music within the space occupy everyone's attention.

Clad in stainless steel and soaring to a height of 630 feet, the Gateway Arch, on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, is one of America’s most iconic landmarks. It was designed by the Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947 and completed in 1965 (four years after Saarinen’s death). As impressive as the arch itself, however, are the egg-shaped tram cars, each with room for 12 passengers, that ascend the arch. Their unique design incorporates elements of elevators and Ferris wheels, with each capsule rotating 155 degrees during its journey. At the top of the arch, passengers have views that stretch for 30 miles east and west.

Extravagant Elevators: See The World’s 11 Most Unique  | Architectural Digest

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