For some visitors to Pall Mall, the steep and shallow rake leading to the monument dedicated to our Grand old Duke of York had forced a flat detour via Trafalgar Square. Noticing the inaccessibility of the various London landmarks, Perseverance Works architect Matthew Lloyd took to the drawing board.
The prototype of the world’s first water and solar powered passenger wheelchair lift was created and assembled in the cobbled courtyard at Perseverance Works. Capital Models, also based at PW, constructed the lift itself and made an architectural scale model, later displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition.
The lift made its public debut during the London Architecture Festival 2010 when it was unveiled on the steps of the historic Pall Mall monument to the acclaim of public and press.
According to Walker, creating a lift for the steps was “remarkably difficult” for a number of reasons; the structure on the Grade I-listed steps had to be freestanding for a start. As a result, the architect enlisted the help of the Royal Engineers, traditional masterminds of site-specific solutions.
The Eureka moment hit during a train journey with Major David Blow when the pair sketched a water-based solution. According to the innovative design, water weights counterbalance the lift cart while energy captured by two solar panels powers the lift drive. Perspex casing reveals in the inner workings of innovation to admirers of the wholly sustainable lift.
Following the success of the prototype, a permanent zero carbon lift is in development – a step forward on the path to making London a more accessible and carbon-neutral metropolis that began at PW.