A Lift Fit for a King

Charles V reigned as King of Spain from 1516 to 1556. He established his residence in the Alhambra located in Granada, Spain. Construction began on his palace in 1527. On May 19, 2014, 487 years later, the much-needed disabled lift installed was opened.

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The installation was not an easy task, but MP Lifts of Spain was up to the challenge. Let’s take a look at this unique project and the incredible outcome that was achieved.

The Challenge
The Alhambra is a protected World Heritage site, which means that any kind of construction work is prohibited. However, “The Accessible City” project led by The Fundación la Caixa along with the Sí podemos association, sought to change this.
Those with disabilities needed to be able to enjoy this world famous site as well. The project began because of the need to connect the circular patio in the space to the Museum of Fine Arts, which is on the top floor.

The structure was studied in detail so that the custom lift that was to be installed would leave as small of a footprint as possible. Damaging or changing the original structure was simply not an option.
To do this, it was determined that a triangular shaft had to be built in the location seen below.

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The Board of Trustees assigned architect Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas with the task of designing an irregular panoramic car that would eventually make its way into the triangular shaft. It was to be manufactured by MP Lifts and installed by IASA.
Torrecillas wanted those in the lift to be able to “see and breath the space, the texture of the stone and the weight of the history” that encompassed the palace. The original stone shaft that was more than 500 years old, however, could not be touched.

The Lift

This project has meant a real challenge for MP, involving modeling a universal need to adapt the irregular shaft and integrate it with the building. The result being a unique lift at the Alhambra.

Torrecillas designed a car that could rise from ground level to the upper floor without modifying any of the distinctive and original characteristics of the palace.

The lift holds up to 8 persons and travels at 0.63 meters per second (about 1.4 mph). The entire distance traveled from the ground to the top is 8.5 meters (about 28 feet). It is a hydraulic, direct drive and features a buried jack. It is comprised of laminated, tempered glass panes that are cut at 45 degree angles.

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The lift has been adapted to the existing shaft. It is a purpose-built lift, a unique model, which has been designed especially for the place where it has been installed.

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As mentioned earlier, limiting the effect the lift has on the original structure was crucial. To achieve this, it uses direct drive action with a buried jack. This provides the advantage of having the action from the lift transferred to the jack and offloaded into the ground.

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To give you an idea of how much detail and careful precision went into the project, excavating for the pit, for example, was done in 5 centimeter blocks (about 2 inches) at a time. It was done under the supervision of a historian and archaeologist from the Board of Trustees as well.

I think we can all agree that the result is simply stunning.

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The landing buttons are installed on a stand so that no modification had to be made to the original stone.

All of the features of this lift, from its location to its integration and modern design are at the forefront of innovation and make it one of the most important within the Province of Granada. The glass sides and roof give riders a unique experience and allow them to take in the full beauty of the palace.

Thanks for reading,

– Caleb

Thank you to Beatriz Col Marchena of MP Ascensores for submitting the photos and project information.

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