by Zohra KhanJun 05, 2023
Unveiling a groundbreaking new venture that “marks a turning point for the future of transport and mobility”, Zaha Hadid Architects has entered into a partnership with Hyperloop Italia to co-design its next project phase. The London-based architecture and design firm, known for their progressive, fluid, convention-defying architecture, rooted in the principles of parametricism, brings a wealth of experience in designing large scale architectural and mass transit projects - including the Beijing Daxing International Airport in China, Nordpark Railway Station in Austria, and the ongoing King Abdullah Financial District Metro Station in Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on the game-changing announcement in an official statement, Patrik Schumacher, Principal of Zaha Hadid Architects, states: "We are looking forward to collaborating with Hyperloop Italia; marrying transformative architecture, engineering and urban planning with the most efficient and sustainable transport network to significantly improve accessibility, connectivity, and well-being in our cities”.
The premise behind the hyperloop, first put forth by Elon Musk back in 2012, was that of a transit method with the capacity to shorten inter-city trips from hours into mere minutes. Since its founding in 2013, Hyperloop Transport Technologies (Hyperloop Italia's parent organisation) has been among the first to invest in the realisation of this radical system, uniting over 800 professionals across five continents.
The company has even set up an operational R&D center in Toulouse, France, to run full scale tests. Additionally, Hyperloop Italia is the first organisation to possess a license to research and commercially implement Hyperloop technology within Italy. As part of the work they are currently engaged in, Hyperloop Italia is conducting a feasibility study on shortening travel times for the Malpensa-Cadorna transit route in Milan from 43 minutes to just 10.
Often presented as a highly viable and sustainable alternative to current mass transit methods such as air travel and railways, hyperloop systems employ low-pressure vacuum tubes to minimise friction during travel. Their prototype transportation systems, powered by renewable energy, can purportedly propel passengers and cargo at incredibly high speeds with magnetic levitation technology. Combined with regenerative braking systems, the method could produce more energy than it consumes, as per Hyperloop TT. Furthermore, their climate-controlled passenger capsules could ostensibly complete trips unaffected by external environmental conditions due to their encasement within sealed tubes.
Bibop Gresta, the co-founder of Hyperloop TT and founder and CEO of Hyperloop Italia, reflects on the news, saying, "This agreement marks another step forward for Hyperloop Italia and confirms the success of the Hyperloop Partnership Program launched last month to attract the world’s best talent”. He adds, "We are certain that Zaha Hadid Architects is the right partner to allow Hyperloop Italia to promote design excellence in architecture. Their decades of global experience in civic and transport infrastructure will be essential in ensuring that our transport hubs are sustainable, intuitive to navigate, and fully integrated within their urban contexts.”
This revelation comes on the back of similar joint projects and endeavours in recent years between leading architectural firms across the world and companies focused on the development and implementation of hyperloop technologies. These include the BIG and Kilo Design co-developed Virgin Hyperloop 'Pegasus' test pod, MAD Architect' partnering with Hyperloop TT, and BIG's design for the Virgin Hyperloop certification centre in the United States. Suffice it to say, with the abundance of gifted minds presently invested in their development, fully functioning hyperloop systems within the urban domain might be approaching faster than we could ever have anticipated.