Post by Steven Dale
Probably one of the single biggest counter-points to urban cable systems is the stations. People are quick to argue that the stations are large, ugly and imposing. It’s a difficult point to argue with because most cable stations are just that: Large, ugly and imposing.
But then again, so are many of our traditional transit stations:
The point, however, is that they don’t have to be.
Cable transit isn’t dependent upon large, ugly stations, they’ve just been designed that way for most of their history. In order to make in-roads in urban cable transit, the cable industry has a responsibility to begin designing stations with cities in mind, but cities also have a responsibility to imagine cable stations in new and beautiful ways.
Which brings me to the Funivia del Renon in Bolzano, Italy (pictured above).
The Funivia is not an urban system, specifically. It doesn’t carry a lot of people and it services a mountain resort. It is, however, a cable system whose terminus is located within a city. The design of that station is therefore very important for our purposes.
While I’ve never visited the system myself, this new system appears (at least on the surface) to blend in excellently with the surrounding urban fabric. The station has an excellent relationship to street level pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Whether you like the architecture or not, it’s hard to deny that the station adds to the surrounding area, it does not detract from it.
I suspect it is the design of the stations – not the technology itself – that will make or break urban gondolas and urban cable transit. Thankfully, the cable industry seems to understand this and is working towards rectifying that problem.
The Funivia opened just recently in March of 2009, so there are few images and videos, but I managed to dig one up. Take a look:
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