Since December 2007, over 4.5 million passengers have made more than 8 million journeys on the funicular railway between the centre of Innsbruck up the Nordkette mountain to Hungerburg. In 2017 alone, over 600,000 passengers made 2.1 million journeys on the railway and used its four stations designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA).
The Hungerburg funicular (Hungerburgbahn) is part of Innsbruck’s Nordpark Cable Railway (Nordkettenbahnen) and begins at the Congress underground station in the centre of the city. Trains stop at Lowenhaus Station before crossing the bridge over the River Inn, then climbing to Alpenzoo Station and on to Hungerburg where passengers can continue their journey on the Seegrube and Hafelekar cable cars up to its summit at 2,300m.
The Nordkette mountain is within the Karwendel, the largest nature park in Austria, giving visitors to the Hafelekar fantastic 360° views of the city as well as Tyrol’s most extensive nature conservation area. Each station’s lightweight roof structure ‘floats’ above a concrete plinth, creating an artificial landscape that describes the passenger circulation within. When completed in 2007, the stations were the world’s largest structures using double-curved glass in construction.
Using innovative new design and production methods that have since become mainstream – such as CNC milling, thermoforming, and computational parametric design – enabled precision in translating the fluid geometries of the design into the built structures. Starting at the almost flat gradient of the underground Congress station in the city then rising to the maximum 46° gradient of Alpenzoo Station, a new hydraulic tilting system was developed for the railway cars. This system maintains a horizontal floor surface throughout the journey to ensure passengers’ safety and comfort.
Due to its steep incline, the railway’s cable is also restrained from above to ensure it follows the gradient of the railway tracks – the first time this technology was used globally and has since been adopted by many other funicular railways worldwide. Innsbruck will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Hungerburgbahn with events throughout the winter including architectural tours every Tuesday at 10:30am in English and every Friday at 4:00pm in German until 6 April 2018. Source and photos Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.
Article by Marco Rinaldi