Hyperloop transportation and what it means for architecture

KARIM WARRAK 12 Jun 2017

Hyperloop transportation and what it means for architecture 

Step into the future, now at 700 mph. Using magnetic levitation, Hyperloop One (formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies, Inc.), tested on Wednesday the first full-scale prototype of the tubular transportation technology they propose, which makes use of an electromagnetic propulsion system, being designed to transport both cargo or passengers. The company announced an exclusive deal to use passive magnetic levitation, a system developed in the 1990’s, based on magnetic and coil.

CEO Rob Lloyd has stated that only full-scale testing could actually demonstrate if the system works, after separately testing “levitation technologies, aerodynamics in those low-pressure environments and the tube”.

While Hyperloop transportation is, by itself, an unconventional idea, it brings to the table a lot of interesting partnerships, most notably the one with BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group. The firm is known for its alternative way of perceiving contemporary architecture and technology. Ingels has stated about the collaboration: “Traditionally, the work of an architect is to design buildings for the same known program – a residence or a workplace – and try to squeeze in a marginal improvement here or an elegant design solution there. With Hyperloop we are not only designing a futuristic station or a very fast train – we are dealing with an entirely novel technology with the potential to completely transform how our existing cities will grow and evolve – and how new cities will be conceived and constructed.”

Cargo hyperloop capsule with bay doors open, showing capacity for standard 40-foot container – Hyperloop is essentially a long tube that has had the air removed to create a vacuum. The tube is suspended off the ground to protect against weather and earthquakes – Photo via Forbes


In 2013, MIT students won a competition to transform SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk’ idea into a design for a Hyperloop – Source UK Times

With a sustainable, futuristic approach, seen in projects as the Copenhagen Power Plant or the Little Denmark, the architectural community waits to see how the firm will implements its ideology in this very unusual and large scale project. Not only have we not been faced with similar technology before, but what are traditionally perceived as being important parts of a transportation system, such as stations, are not necessary anymore. “Utilizing a passive levitation system will eliminate the need for power stations along the Hyperloop track, which makes this system the most suitable for the application and will keep construction costs low,” the team has stated.

Hyperloop is a proposed method of travel that would take people at 745mph (1,200km/h) between destinations – Image Courtesy of Hyperloop Technologies

Hyperloop rendering Image – Courtesy of Hyperloop Technologies

The architectural result may come sooner than one might imagine, since Hyperloop One hope to have a fully functional prototype by the end of the year – the current one has no brake system designed, at it will crash into a pile of sand at 116 miles per hour.

The planning will also involve the work of others collaborators. For example, Arup will be in charge of discovering geographic locations for Hyperloop passenger proposals. FS Links will be in charge of the development and choosing of the regions that the transportation will connect. Other collaborations include AECOM, Arcturan Sustainable Cargo, Amberg Group, Cargo Sous Terrain, Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting, Grid, KPMG, and Systra.

Rendered image shows an underwater Hyperloop design – Courtesy of Hyperloop Technologies


Some of the tubes that will be used to construct a test track of Hyperloop – Photo via CNN Money

Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One has stated “We will work alongside these world-class partners to redefine the future of transportation, providing a more immediate, safe, efficient and sustainable high-speed backbone for the movement of people and things.” Therefore, we are assisting a new system with new needs, one that might redefine cities as we currently know them.


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