Go­ing Up!

The el­e­va­tor is a mod­ern-day con­ve­nience that adds to the pe­cu­liar plea­sures of liv­ing and work­ing in a high-rise.

Southasia - - Technology - By Muham­mad Omar Iftikhar

In an­cient times, the lever and pul­ley sys­tem was used to lift heavy ob­jects from the ground. Hu­mans too were trans­ported in the same man­ner but not on a large scale. As the con­crete jun­gle grew around the world, giv­ing way to the con­struc­tion of high-rise build­ings and sky­scrapers, stair­cases be­came a nui­sance, as climb­ing mul­ti­ple floors be­came tire­some and time con­sum­ing. This is when Elisha Graves Otis came into the lime­light, the founder of the Otis El­e­va­tor Com­pany. In 1854, he de­vised the safety equip­ment for el­e­va­tors which pre­vented them from fall­ing in case the ca­bles sup­port­ing them broke..

These de­vices, also known as ‘lifts’, slowly spread across the globe. In the sub­con­ti­nent, el­e­va­tors were in­tro- duced by the Bri­tish and in­stalled in build­ings and apart­ment com­plexes. In­ter­est­ingly, these old el­e­va­tors, some as old as a hun­dred years and quite prim­i­tive in de­sign, are still func­tion­ing quite ef­fi­ciently in the larger cities of In­dia, Pak­istan and Bangladesh. They have cages and doors that are ac­tu­ally steel grills. The doors are opened and closed man­u­ally. Some are main­tained quite im­mac­u­lately and move smoothly while oth­ers have in­te­ri­ors that are quite creepy but they do their job.

In some parts of Karachi, where the Bri­tish form of ar­chi­tec­ture pre­vails, such el­e­va­tors are still func­tional but are be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to use and main­tain. The floor but­tons on these creaky con­trap­tions have faded after use over such a long pe­riod, car- pets and floor paddings have be­come worn out and ceil­ings are al­most fall­ing down. Some­times, the ex­pe­ri­ence of get­ting into such el­e­va­tors can be quite an eerie one. As soon as one steps in, the el­e­va­tor jerks and heaves a bit and your first thought is whether the pul­leys are strong enough to take you to the de­sired floor. The sec­ond jolt comes when the el­e­va­tor ac­tu­ally be­gins to move and one can feel the force of grav­ity act­ing on your body - but they still carry on re­gard­less.

Over the past decades, as the city of Karachi has gone through a mas­sive trans­for­ma­tion in terms of new build­ing tech­niques and trends, el­e­va­tors too have kept up with mod­ern needs. With the cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ment be­com­ing more re­fined and new av­enues of busi­ness open­ing up, there

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