The Glass elevator in the town of Arendal in Southern Norway is not only a visible architectural landmark with the very best views of the town. It is also becoming one of Norway’s greatest public attractions. During the first year after the opening, the twin elevators did more than 250.000 trips. Based on a careful assessment of four persons per trip, more than one million people used the elevators during the first year, or 1/5 of Norway’s population! By comparison, the town of Arendal has only 45.000 inhabitants…
The challenge was how to connect the upper hill to the Market Place below. The twin glass elevators cut through the rocks, ‘bridge’ the two parts of the town. The elevators facilitate the transition from car-based transportation to transportation by bicycle, foot and wheelchair, improving access to the hill for everyone. Once you reach the top, one arm is a bridge link to the hill and the built-up area beyond, whilst the other arm points towards the town centre below, descending into a viewing platform only stopped by a wide sheet of glass with panoramic views over the townscape.
The elevators are reached from an existing tunnel connecting the Market Place and the Railway Station. A shaft was blasted through the rocks to form the elevator shaft. When the elevators emerge above ground, the shaft continues as an open steel structure supporting the bridge. The shaft, the bridge and the elevators are illuminated so that the structure always appears attractive. The steel structure hides the integrated lighting, thus avoiding light pollution.
The elevators improve mobility, connecting two parts of the town, strengthening the quality of public space and urban life. This is an example of how to solve an urban infra structural challenge in a new way, without cars and roads.