25 Years on: Alimak make History at Australia’s Parliament House

Parliament House, Australia

In celebration of 25 years of service, Alimak looks back on one of the largest and most unique projects the company has undertaken worldwide, and the contribution Alimak has made to one of the Australia’s most recognisable structures.

In 1985 Alimak was awarded the contract for the design, manufacture and installation of two specially designed rack and pinion industrial elevators. Alimak worked closely with project architects and managers on the design, engineering and aesthetics of incorporating the two rack and pinion elevators into the flagpole structure of Australia's new Parliament House.

In order to preserve the visual impact of the new structure, it was essential that the flagmast have clean lines and not be visually disturbed by the intrusion of the elevators. To achieve this, Alimak engineers designed a unique stainless steel rack which could be bolted directly onto the stainless steel leg, without the use of a mast. In this way, the rack was hidden from public view, camouflaged against the flag mast leg.

Alimak’s unique solution to the challenge at Parliament House was a dual elevator concept: one elevator to travel the 61m up the southeast flagmast leg, at a 40° inclination, to the first landing platform, and a second elevator to continue the additional 24m to the apex of the tapered flagpole.

The lower elevator, with a capacity of 300kg and equipped to carry 3 persons at a speed of 9m/ min, travels the 50m of the stainless steel leg to the first cluster platform, and from there can travel an additional 10m to the  second cluster platform. The first cluster platform is used predominantly as structural support for the flagpole; the second platform facilitates the changing of the flag and houses the flagpole lighting system. Access to the two cluster landing platforms is achieved via an electric/hydraulic drawbridge contained within the elevator. Upon reaching the cluster landing, this transfer bridge extends from the elevator and is lowered onto the platform, forming a walkway. This allows passage from the elevator car to each of the two cluster platforms, allowing personnel to exit the elevator to complete necessary maintenance on the landings.

The upper elevator, with a capacity of 100kg, is equipped to carry a single person the additional 24m to the very top of the flagpole, allowing personnel to reach the external ropes, pulley system and the hoisted flag, should the winch system fail or the sheaves require replacing.

The two Alimak rack and pinion elevators have remained in operation at Parliament House for 25 years, servicing the central flagpole from which the Australian flag flies. The unique nature of the project, coupled with the engineering and design challenges involved, has made this one of the largest projects completed by Alimak worldwide. 25 years on, Alimak celebrates one of its proudest achievements and the contribution made to one of Australia’s most iconic structures.

Elevator details

Parliament House, Canberra, Australia
Installation year
Flagmast, elevator access
Elevator type
Alimak 300 kg, Alimak 100 kg
Lifting height
81 m
300 kg, 100 kg
Parliament House, Canberra, Australia

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