Water Lift, Pall Mall, London

Working in collaboration with the Royal Engineers, Architecture Inside Out, RIBA London and The Royal Parks, Matthew Lloyd Architects created this water and solar powered wheelchair lift for the London Festival of Architecture in 2010.

We were delighted to be asked by Matthew Lloyd Architects to help build this world’s first design; a lift to carry wheelchair users up and down the historic Duke of York steps in Pall Mall, London.

The zero-energy concept, capable of carrying more than 300kg, uses water weights to counterbalance the lift cart, dismissing the need for an electrical connection. Most disability lifts are hidden away but this particular piece was designed to lay bare all the mechanical innards through Perspex, allowing users and passers-by to decipher how it worked and encourage engagement.

Created to raise public awareness around access and sustainability, this unique piece proved to have architectural merit and suitably responded to the historic surroundings of Pall Mall. It was a huge success as an educational tool as well as being an enjoyable attraction with the general public.

This innovative installation caused quite a stir and attracted lots of media attention with articles featuring in the Guardian/Observer, Architects Journal, Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, as well as several other trade magazines.

In addition to helping build the original piece our Capital Models team also produced a 1:10 scale model from acrylic. This model was selected as one of the installations for the Royal Academy’s highly prestigious Summer Exhibition.

This particular design still remains today, one of the most exciting and innovative projects we’ve been involved with.