A Windowless Elevator with a 360º Panoramic View

The Amoreiras Tower, in Lisbon, Portugal, recently added a rooftop viewing area that is open to the public. The top of the tower is one of the highest spots in the city, and the viewing area gives an impressive 360º view of the surrounding area. However, the elevator to get to the top left a lot to be desired. It’s an interior elevator, and didn’t itself offer any view.

So, Artica, along with Schindler, were brought in to solve that problem. The solution was to mount displays on the interior of the elevator, in order to simulate a 360º panoramic view of the city outside. The video is synced up with the elevator, so the view changes as the elevator passengers move up and down between floors.

Artica, who was responsible for the concept, design, and electronics installation accomplished this by first building a prototype in their office building. This was a full-size elevator replica with which they could test the design and get it ready for installation. They then partnered with Schindler to actually install the system in the elevator of the Amoreiras Tower, which necessitated almost completely rebuilding the elevator. As you can see in the video, the resulting view and accompanying music (definitely not elevator music) are fantastic, and it was even done in time for the public opening of the rooftop viewing area.

Like us, you may be wondering where the video footage came from. The scene moves in apparent parallax so video was obviously captured with continuous motion and isn’t a scrolling image. This is the work of a camera toting drone.

23 thoughts on “A Windowless Elevator with a 360º Panoramic View

    1. I happened to be on a holiday in Lisbon when I read about the elevator here, so, because I didn’t have a plan for the afternoon yet, I immediately went.

      What you say about not being far away enough from the screens to be able to experience the illusion is correct. But what really made it annoying is the constant music and voice over praising the shopping center it’s in. Other than that it’s pretty cool.

      And it’s well worth the 5 EUR entry fee for 15 minutes at the platform the elevator takes you to (if you’re nice to the guard he will let you stay longer.) The view of Lisboa is fantastic from there. You can even see the runway of Lisbon Airport and the planes take off and land.

  1. stunning! some anti reflection coating could help a bit though.
    i’m wondering how hot this could get after one day of full operation. do they plan to shoot the video for more scenarion, like morning and evening?

    it’s kinda big oculus rift, so you could easily give folks in there a heart attack by rlaying the footage backwards with appropriate speed :-)

    1. I need the opposite of this.
      I have a fear of heights and my web developer just moved to the top floor (160) of Burj Khalifa and they have glass elevators. I need something that has a mostly static image with a movement up and down hear and there to mask the fact that the elevator is going up.

      I asked the web developer why he needs to be up so high and he just said he needs to bu up close to that satellites because “it take so god damned long to load 5MB gifs from anywhere else”.

  2. They have a similar system in place for the observation deck at One Freedom Plaza. What’s neat about that is they do a time travel animation showing NYC through the ages and another animation showing the construction of the Freedom Tower. One plays on the way up, the other on the way down. I forget which is which.

  3. They could have great fun adding cartoon characters walking around the streets. Or be really evil and show a nuke going off in the distance or a plane heading towards you.

  4. Interesting that their site lists ‘mains 220V AC’ when in fact in Portugal they have 230V.
    It might not be important in practice but it’s curious that people building a real life expensive and complex system like that would not even known their mains voltage.And it can’t be a typo since it’s there several times in several colors.

    1. I would guess that an elevator in Portugal actually runs off of 400 3 phase. Quite possible they transformed that down to 220, or just grabbed 235 from phase to neutral or some available 230V single phase and called it good. 220 to 235 is <7% off… well within the tolerance of anything I've spec'd out. (I never trust line voltage on industrial supplies to be exactly what the nameplate says.)

  5. as someone who works with video and projection. These sort of things are really challenging and always look way cooler in video.

    Just like the world looks different as you move you head while looking through a window, a screen does not. A screen is always flat. Everyone in a real glass elevator has a different view, but everyone in this elevator is looking at the walls. The videos are Fixed Perspective. so the effect only works if you stand in the exact correct spot.

    Don’t forget this was already done in NYC with the world trade center. It is a bit more impressive (imo) because it moves through time and space, you see the city build as you move up.

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