Innovative Light Rail System passes its first tests

The innovative construction concept for a new Light Rail System, for which architectural studio ZJA, Woosung D&C, C&SC, GS E&C, SIDstudio and Iv-infra joined forces, commissioned by the South Korean Railroad Research Institute (KRRI), has passed its first tests with flying colours. In South Korea a full-scale, forty-metre-long sample was tested under load, and scale models were tested for resistance to wind load and to earthquakes.

Clever structure with a positive spatial impact

Lighter than a metro, faster than a bus, less environmentally polluting and with a greater capacity – the Light Rail System is a popular means of transport in cities. The problem, however, is that the raised horizontal structures, which have previously always stood on closely spaced columns, have a negative visual and spatial impact in already jam-packed cities. For that reason the choice is often made to build more expensive underground transport solutions.

A tendril, winding at a great height

Economically viable, elegant, sustainable and innovative. Our task was to come up with an above-ground solution for an Elevated Light Rail System in a city environment that would have less spatial and visual impact than the traditional design. Our proposed network looks like a tendril, winding at a great height through the metropolis, leaving room for walkers and green space below.

Rob Torsing, architect-partner ZJA

Maximum span, extremely strong and dimensionally stable

The structural solution was found in a slim design with a limited construction height, based on the principle of the I-beam profile.

Rob Torsing explains. ‘By using a central beam between the tracks with “flanges” cantilevered outwards, it becomes possible to increase the distance between the columns considerably and to optimize the play of forces. Even at places where the structure is around fifteen metres high, the distance between the columns could be extended to 200 metres without the need for extra stays or cables. Strong, able to retain its shape and – unlike a tubular structure with cut-aways – giving passengers a completely open view on one side.’

First tests passed with flying colours

To test its strength and stability, the structure was recently subjected to a stress test at its most fragile part. It proved able to bear a load of 430 tons without collapsing. Furthermore, tests on scale models showed that the structure could withstand wind speeds of up to 80 metres a second and earthquakes of up to 6.5 on the Richter scale.


Watch the Korean news with pictures of the tests.

Read more here about the research project.



Computational design

Designing with the help of computer technologie

ZJA has worked with computational design right from the start and our architectural studio has always continued to develop in this field.

Read more

Elevated Light Rail Transit wins WAN Award 2023

Our innovative concept for an Elevated Light Rail Transit system (ELRT) in South-Korea has now won the prestigious international WAN Awards!

Read more

ZJA Structural

Interplay between architectural and structural design

In the design philosophy of ZJA an architectural plan emerges out of a creative interplay between the needs of people and their environment…

Read more

Elevated Lightrail System, South Korea

In the fall of 2018 the architectural studio ZJA welcomed a delegation of South Korean researchers, engineers and contractors that the…

Read more