Tech Innovation

Edison Tower’s maglev ‘Wonkavators’ move vertically and horizontally

In the 1971 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the great glass Wonkavator is a technological (and magical) marvel. While an elevator can only go up and down, the Wonkavator can go “sideways and slantways and longways and backways… and squareways and front ways and any other ways that you can think of.”

Some 44 years later, researcher Frank Jendrusch has almost made the idea of a Wonkavator come true. Jendrusch is the architect of Edison Tower, a 1,310-meter-high building which will be built in New York. However, moving around this giant building using conventional elevator technology would be somewhat time-consuming.

So “Multi” was invented, an elevator that can move both horizontally and vertically.


“We are talking about elevators based on magnetic levitation, or maglev, similar to the technology used in high-speed trains, which could reach speeds of up to 600 km/h,” says Jendrusch. “Each elevator will travel at five metres per second, with stops every 50 metres, so people will wait no longer than 30 seconds to move either from one floor to another or within the same floor.”

The tower will have its own energy

The German company ThyssenKrupp immediately expressed their interest in this system. No cables or weights will be used, enabling higher speeds to be achieved. The building will also have its own electricity supply, generated by photovoltaic cells and wind turbines.

According to Jendrusch, the project could be ready in 2030. ”We are talking about a building which is 1,310 metres high. As a comparison, Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 828 metres,” he says. So in less than 15 years’ time, the dream of Willy Wonka’s sideways elevator might just become a reality.

Sources: photo –, video – Official YouTube channel Frank Jendrusch

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