As much as the Austrian federal state of Tirol is about mountains, spending time in the capital city of Innsbruck is also about reaching those very heights. To that end, Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid left her mark in Innsbruck with her redesigned Bergisel Ski Jump which opened in 2002, and her “Shell and Shadow” design of the Hungerbergbahn stations which opened in 2007.
The Hungerburgbahn is a funicular system which connects Innsbruck’s city centre with the city district of Hungerburg at the foot of the Nordkette mountain group. The original funicular ran a different route between 1906 and 2005 and required a new update. Because alpine culture and activities have played a central role in the history of Innsbruck, the desire for a new funicular and cable-car system began with solicitation of new designs. Hadid’s company won the project, and construction of the new Hungerburgbahn ended in 2007 after a two-year duration.
The funicular operation has four stations: Congress in the city centre, Löwenhaus, Alpenzoo, and Hungerburg. The stations are a direct nod to frozen fields of snow, and riding the funicular feels like floating among or gliding atop flowing slivers and tongues of ice. The design for each station had to accommodate the varying terrain, slope, and altitude, which required flexibility of the smooth shell-like structures to fit into the specific location. Yet, all four stations are united by a single overall architectural theme.
About the Hungerburgbahn funicular:
- Also called the Nordpark Railway Stations.
- Elevation, Congress station (Höhe Talstation): 569 metres – 1867 feet
- Elevation, Hungerburg station (Höhe Bergstation): 857 metres – 2812 feet
- Route length (Streckenlänge): 1.84 kilometres – 1.14 mile
- Travel time (Fahrzeit): 8 min 10 sec
- Operating speed (Betriebsgeschwindigkeit): 10 metres per second – 36 km/h – 22 mph
- Cabin capacity (Wagenfassungsraum): 130 people
- Dokumentationszentrum für Europäische Eisenbahnforschung: description in German
From the city, the Hungerburgbahn is the first stage of ascent to Nordkette. The second and third stages, respectively, are the Seegrubebahn cable car from Hungerburg to Seegrube, and the Hafekelarbahn cable car from Seegrube to Hafekelar mountain.
Born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, Zaha Hadid studied mathematics in Beirut, Lebanon, before moving to London, England to study architecture. London became her adopted home, where she opened her first architectural office in 1980. In all, her company has been responsible for over 900 projects in over 40 countries. Hadid became the first woman awarded the world’s highest architectural accolade with the 2004 Pritzker Prize which is often called “architecture’s Nobel Prize”. She was awarded in 2010 and 2011 the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize for excellence in architecture in the United Kingdom. Hadid taught architecture at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts as professor from 2000 to 2015. Upon retirement in 2015, the university awarded her status of emeritus professor. Hadid was also honoured the same year by Austria with the Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste, or the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria. Hadid died suddenly at age 65 in 2016, but her drive, innovation, and imagination continue to inspire.
Her quotes directly strike at the heart of my physics training: that objects in motion can change shape and size. Ultimately, I think her designs are beautifully straightforward.
The most important thing is motion, the flux of things, a non-Euclidean geometry in which nothing repeats itself: a new order of space.
I don’t think that architecture is only about shelter, is only about a very simple enclosure. It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think.
Bridge over the Inn river, between Löwenhaus and Alpenzoo.
Up to Alpenzoo station.
Hungerburg station at Hermann-Buhl-Platz.
Bergisel Ski Jump (2002) and Hungerburg station (2007), both by Zaha Hadid.
Bergisel Ski Jump above Wilten church and cemetery, from Hafekelar with long-zoom glass.
Hungerburg station; Seegrube and Hafekelar are visible above and behind the station.
Click on the arrow-window icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for the legend and symbols.
The Nordkettenbahn funicular and cable car are indicated as a series of black solid lines near the centre of the map.
To ascend the rest of the way up to Seegrube and/or Hafekelar, you can do the steep hike entirely on foot, or take the Seegrubenbahn cable car from Hungerburg to Seegrube (1905 metres / 6250 feet), followed by the Hafekelarbahn cable car from Seegrube to Hafekelar (2256 metres / 7400 feet). There’s more at nordkette.com.
Except for the cover/featured photo by Helene Binet for Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), I made the remaining photos on 10 and 12 May 2018. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bZH.