Double-deck lifts - Office workers at Broadgate Tower won't be hanging around waiting in the lobby. They'll be speeding up its 34 storeys in the latest lift innovation.

There's nothing like a long wait in a crowded lift lobby after a cumbersome commute to make the beginning of a day extra-stressful. So developer British Land and contractor Bovis Lend Lease have found a solution to help the 3000 occupants of Broadgate Tower in the City of London get off to a good start in the morning.

This 38,000 m², 34-storey speculative office, which is due to be completed in May 2008, has been designed by the Chicago office of architect Skidmore Owings & Merrill. It will feature the first double-deck lift to be used in a new-build project in the UK.

Paul Burgess, head of lettings at British Land, explains why: "Because it's the largest speculative office development ever undertaken in the City of London, it has to feature the most efficient lifting system. In such a tall building, the double-deck lift is a premium service."

Manufactured by Finnish company Kone, the 10 double lifts, which will be installed next year, represent a £6.5m slice of the total estimated construction cost of £292m. The steel cars have to be reinforced to withstand the considerable weight they'll have to carry (up to 18 passengers a deck). The two cars are fixed together and travel simultaneously. The machinery that activates the lifts is the same as for any traditional lift system.

For Mike Bacon, M&E manager at Bovis Lend Lease, this futuristic system offers many benefits. First, installing 10 double

lifts instead of 20 traditional lifts means the space needed inside the concrete core is reduced, which maximises office floorspace. The double-deck lifts are combined with an innovative destination control system to improve the waiting and journey time for building users.

Broadgate Tower

Broadgate Tower

Bacon explains that the double-deck lift has been used to solve the problem of travelling to odd and even levels in a 34-storey high building. Five lifts will cover the lower floors, from the first to the 19th, while the other five leave from the first and second floors but travel directly to storeys 20 and above, without stopping on the lower floors. An escalator from the ground-floor lobby will take users to the lifts on the first and second floors.

It is estimated that the double-deck lifts will reach speeds of 6 m per second, and will take 25 seconds to reach the 33rd floor of the 165 m tall tower.

On entering Broadgate Tower, building users will have to present an ID card at the electronic security barrier to be granted access. This card will be embedded with information about the cardholder, primarily which floor they work on. At the barrier, a screen will show which one of the 10 lifts people have to take to go to their office. The journey is pre-booked and there will be no lift button inside the cars. People wishing to go to floor than the one containing their office will have to book the journey from a touchscreen in the ground-floor lobby.

Double-deck lifts have been used before, particularly in Taiwan, and also at the refurbishment of the 35-storey Centrepoint tower in London. But British Land and Bovis Lend Lease are setting a precedent in this country that might inspire other developers. Bacon says: "At the moment, I am not aware of other double-deck lifts being installed in the UK, but with trends moving towards high-rise buildings, they will certainly be used more often in the future."