This year's high flyer...

Monday 09 Sep 2013

Product of the Year Award reaches dizzying new heights with winner KONE UltraRope

After an extremely tough judging session in Central London, a decision was finally reached on WAN Product of the Year. Although down to a shortlist, things did not become any easier for the panel, which comprised: Andrew Best from Buro Happold; Zoe Laughlin, Creative Director of the Institute of Making; Brendon Moss, Development Director for Land Securities; and Timo Tiainen, Design Director at KONE Corporation.

One aspect that was praised by all the panel was the increasing number of crowdsourced projects that have made it on to the shortlist such as the Baker Cookstove by Claesson Koivisto Rune, designed to help families in developing countries by making fires for cooking more efficient, requiring less wood. The shortlist also featured the URBEE 2 car with its 3D printed body which Zoe Laughlin thought was ‘a really nice addition to the shortlist, just through what it says about crowd sourced project as well as the car as urban product and how it shapes our urban environment which, in the context of an architectural prize is really nice to see’.

In the end however, there had to be a winner. With such a disparate and fascinating range of entries to choose from, the judging panel simply had to decide the following; can this product show evolution in its respective area and does it bring anything new, fresh and innovative to the table.

The accolade of Product of the Year goes to the UltraRope from KONE. The implications of having a single elevator shaft capable of rising up to a kilometre was regarded as a potential step change for the design and construction of tall buildings. Also, the fact that steel cables have been dispensed with in favour of a carbon fibre core with high friction coating for energy efficiency provided all the innovation the judges required.

Andrew Best noted how it could be put into operation in a building with a public area or viewing platform where the movement of visitors would interfere far less with the day-to-day business of all the other floors. Brendan Moss recognised that a problem with lift cable technology up to now was stretching as a steel cable also has to carry its own weight as well as a lift car with all the constant need for recalibration that this entails, whereas with the UltraRope, it stretches initially and then becomes stable. Zoe Laughlin was thinking beyond its application in lift shafts stating: "If they have made what they claim to have made then they really should be looking at other people who would want carbon fibre ropes because there’s many applications for a carbon fibre rope that goes beyond lifts that people [in other areas] haven’t done because they haven’t been able to make it."

Whatever the future holds for this new innovation, we extend our warmest congratulations to KONE for a fascinating Product of the Year.

Jim Davis
WAN AWARDS Co-ordinator

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