New lift technology is reshaping cities

Elevators may soon go sideways as well as up

An aerial view of the new elevator testing tower of Thyssenkrupp Elevator on December 20, 2016 in Rottweil, Germany. The tower, at 246 meters tall, includes 12 shafts for testing elevators and their components and can test elevators at speeds of up to 18 meters per second — Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

The Finnish lift’s walls are bathed by a blue luminescence; music that is not quite jazz gently tootles within. The effect is comforting. But other things are odd. The lift’s dozen or so buttons seem numbered at random and, one would think, unfeasibly: 45, 105, 215, 270. At level 350 the doors hiss open on a dark and dirty…