Zaha Continues to Rock Innsbruck


After Zaha's much trumped-up by kind of 'eh' ski lift thingy, she continues to rock out in Innsbruck, Austria (as one does) by doing a whole system full of stations. Out of concrete and swoopy white glass. Pictured. Yeah, just scroll down that link alone for pictured swoopy white glass goodness. And if that doesn't do it for you, check out the crazy light show from the grand opening of the system.

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Innsbruck is the state capital of Tyrol in Austria, located on the Inn river and surrounded by beautiful mountains. One of them is the Hafelkar, just north of Innsbruck, which can be reached directly from the City center using a combination of a funicular railway (the "Hungerburgbahn") and an aerial tramway (the "Nordkettenbahn"). The first Hungerburgbahn was built as early as 1906, and closed on December 8, 2005 after 99 years of accident-free operation. The first Nordkettenbahn opened a little bit later, in 1928, and operated through 2005.

The past few years saw a lot of of construction between the city and the mountain, first on a new aerial tramway (which opened in December 2006) and then with a complete re-build of the funicular railway, which opened on December 1, 2007.

At the bottom end, the railway was extended into the heart of Innsbruck, which made for a particular technical challenge: The rails down in the city are next to flat. Therefore, the passenger compartments of the new trains are suspended individually to adapt to the incline of the track. Far more visible than the railway cars are the new bridge across the Inn river and the four stations of the system, designed by (Iraqi-born and London-based) Zaha Hadid. Hadid already won some work in Innsbruck in 1999 with the Berg Isel Skijump (completed in 2002), but this time she gave Innsbruck something really special: White like the snow, organically rounded like pieces of ice, flowing like a glacier: The canopies of the new stations seem to float above the ground. Easy to care for, yet robust enough to withstand wind and weather, snow and ice, the stations are built of steel-reinforced concrete, with the canopies made of white glass.

Contributed by our German-language correspondent Georg von Braunschweig.


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