Freeform curved escalator

Architects will be able to create escalators in any shape they want, even freeform curves, thanks to the first significant rethink of escalator design since the "moving stairway" was invented in 1897.

A system known as the "Levytator" has been developed by Jack Levy, an Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering at City University London. Unlike traditional designs, where redundant steps move underneath those in use, the Levytator utilises a continuous loop of curved modules, which can follow any path upwards, flatten and straighten out, and descend once more, all with passengers onboard.

The system can be arranged in any configuration - as a DNA-esque double helix in a science museum, for example - and also offers several practical advantages at a cost that is similar to a conventional unit.

"As all of the steps can be accessed from above, maintenance can be carried out much more easily," says Levy. "It also means that no excavation is required when installing the Levytator. This could be particularly useful in the heritage sector, where the system could be placed on top of a grand staircase in a listed stately home, providing better access for elderly and disabled visitors, but not destroying the fabric of the building."

Source: 25 October 2010