Alpine Ride

 

Zaha Hadid's four alpine-funicular stations in Innsbruck call up associations with icefalls, snowdrifts and landslides

Horse-drawn carriages are parked opposite the imperial palace in the shade of the chestnut trees. A crowd of school children armed with skateboards meet up in front of the Tyrol theatre. On this sunny, late-summer’s day everything is as usual in Innsbruck. ‘We had problems with the glass for the roofs,’ a helpful passer-by comments. He points to the other side of the river Inn, adding proudly: ‘But we’ll soon be opening the Hungerburg funicular. Really cool!’ You might have thought he was personally responsible for the new funicular railway and its stations designed by Zaha Hadid.Since the ski jump was built on Berg Isel, the inhabitants of Innsbruck have taken the Londonbased architects to their hearts. Despite the baroque tradition and Alpine kitsch consistently surrounding this regional capital of Tyrol, the locals support the futuristic forms conceived by the Hadid practice. That also applies to their landslides – purely organic forms that belong in the Alpine décor and mark the architecture of the station buildings. The lower terminus serving the funicular railway, which was financed as a public-private partnership project, is located at the Congress Centre beside the imperial palace which is orientated towards the court gardens and the Inn river. Traffic flows at a sharp angle round the corner. Cycle paths and pedestrian crossings intersect and at the centre of this busy interchange a roof membrane of gleaming, double-curving glass arches up and appears to float above the undulating plinth of solid concrete. A dynamic piece of architectural sculpture, and a kind of reptile, the skin having the colour of the river, that has nestled in the traffic at the edge of the town centre....

Text: Sandra Hofmeister

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