Posts Tagged: Gondola

31
Jan

2012

Chicago Gondola?

The Navy Pier in Chicago is expected to undergo huge changes. $85 million so far has been allocated towards its redevelopment. Image from Chicago Tribune.

Last week, St. Louis announced that an aerial gondola was in their redevelopment plans for the Arch.

And now, according to this news source, a team of designers has also proposed an aerial gondola in Chicago. The gondola line is planned to start nearby the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive and will glide above the congested streets of Chicago before delivering passengers to the Navy Pier.

While the gondola may not necessarily be a pure CPT and we don’t necessarily like seeing CPT used purely as toys for tourists, it is encouraging to see that the awareness of the technology is increasing and catching on.

If anyone has photos or additional information on this, we love to see it! Thanks goes out to Patricia for sending along the link to this.



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16
Jan

2012

Yoshino Ropeway – World’s First CPT?

Gondola Project largely began because we noticed that there was a lack of accurate online educational resources on cable technology. Over these past years, we’ve helped a lot people from all backgrounds learn more about CPT systems by separating fact from fiction.

As we know, despite our best efforts, a gap still exists within cable literature (especially with the Algerian cable systems), due in large part to language barriers. While we initially thought that the Roosevelt Island Tram was one of the world’s first CPT system, we may be 47 years off.

Yoshino Ropeway is a 350m long aerial tram system that takes riders up to Yoshino Mountain in about 3 minutes time. Image by 3ff.jp.

The Yoshino Ropeway (website is in Japanese) in Yoshino, Japan was built in 1929, and is considered the oldest operating and surviving cable system in the country. It may very well be the earliest example of Cable Propelled Transit on the planet

According to Wikipedia, it not only provides transportation for tourists wishing to access Mount Yoshino, but it is a form of public transport for residents living in the vicinity.

As can be seen from Google Maps, the cable system is highly interconnected with the transit network – the Yoshino Railway Line is only a short walk from the Senbonguchi gondola station. This system is 82 years old and aside from cabin and cable updates, it still operates with the same infrastructure and span. Surely, this system is a testament to the reliability and durability of cable transport.

Interestingly enough, the system is likely a highly endeared and cherished local landmark – the two cabins are actually named: Kaede (Maple) and Sakura (Cherry).

Here is a video that gives you a full tour of the system. Enjoy!

 

If anyone has more information and insight on this unique cable system, we’d love to hear about it.



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11
Jan

2012

Gondola Fondue

In the past, we’ve seen that Gondola technology is extremely flexible.

It can adapt itself literally into anything, whether it be a Gondola Sauna, or a Gondola Music Concert, Cable Lifts have got you covered.

However, one can argue that public transit is pretty wacky in general – especially with the recently held 3rd annual No Pants Subway Ride. While I’ll admit that rail certainly encourages some cheeky behaviour, gondolas are undoubtedly the cheesiest of all.

Evidence you say? Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly introduce to you Vercorin, Switzerland’s fondue gondola. Enjoy!

PS: A big thank-you goes out to Damien for the link!

PS PS: Anyone know what they’re saying?



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13
May

2011

What Would Banning Cars in LA Look Like?

According to a team of architecture students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo an LA without cars would look very, very different (no kidding). It might even involve a few urban gondolas (at the 5:20 through till the 7:20 mark):


Downtown Los Angeles from tam thien tran on Vimeo.


 



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06
Apr

2011

Singapore’s Sentosa Island Gondola, Part 2 – The Design

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the Sentosa Island Cable Car in Singapore. Special thanks to Andrew Seh and Dominic Teo, who gave me the tour, answered questions and provided some insight into this system. All images by Steven Dale.

To start with Part 1, click here.

Aesthetically, the Sentosa Island Gondola is a tale of two systems. It’s schizophrenic in its physicality, towing the line between stark utilitarianism and modern, urban chic. Never however, do those two aspects converge effectively. It’s as though there are two halves to its personality, and neither ever seem to want to meet the other.

The first half of that personality is functional, practical and to be perfectly honest – ugly. Interior station architecture is loud, dark and cramped. This is a shame as the exteriors of the stations are perfectly pleasant and acceptable. One moves from beautiful restaurant terraces and balconies into a space that makes one feel as though they’ve left a resort and entered a mechanic’s garage.

The Mount Faber Station Interior.

This is particularly true of the intermediary station which rests on the 15th floor of Harbourfront Tower Two. From the outside, it’s gleaming, modern and urban. One purchases a ticket in a marble atrium and is whisked up via private elevator to the 15th floor only to enter a room devoid of light, amenity and charm.

From this . . .

. . . to this . . .

. . . to this.

It has the exact same appeal as the undecorated floor of a financial district office tower. No attempt has been made to hide the guts.

Let’s make clear that this isn’t the fault of the technology. That may sound like I’m acting as a gondola apologist, but hear me out. We know that the infrastructure and architecture are somewhat separate from one another. As such, it cuts both ways: Station architecture can be beautiful and it can be ugly. For better or for worse, that’s not the choice of the technology, that’s the choice of the system owner.

Having said that, urban cable systems are more and more having to deal with issues of architecture and urban form, and the Sentosa Gondola frankly fails to live up to those expectations.

This is one of the biggest complaints I have about the system. Given the money that was spent on upgrades and new foundations, one expects some money to have been spent on station interiors. As mentioned yesterday, this system is almost exclusively marketed via its arguably excessive VIP cabins, yet it’s hard to imagine any VIP choosing to board the system in such austere environs.

This austerity isn’t helped by the decision to retain the hulking concrete support infrastructure for the system’s two intermediary towers. The decision to do so was a financial one and completely justifiable. So much money was being spent on other station and tower upgrades, it’s hard to rationalize new towers for purely aesthetic reasons.

Reuse of old concrete towers was a strong financial decision, but a poor aesthetic one.

At the same time, I think an opportunity was missed here.

MDG systems with little grade change typically require more towers to span such a long distance – the Lisbon gondola, for example has 9 intermediary towers distributed along less than 1km length. But the unique topography and the genius of using a skyscraper as an intermediary tower, eliminated that need.

Here was an opportunity to really demonstrate how little space such a system could occupy. Instead we’re left with towers that make the system feel much, much older than it actually is. It’s a totally understandable situation, but a shame nonetheless.

From an urban design perspective, the system shines around Harbourfront Tower Two. The area is completely urban. Buses, subways, offices, roads, pedestrian causeways and shopping all converge in one bustling area swarming with people, cars and transit. Here, the gondola is but one among many.

In the Harbourfront area, the gondola feels like a natural part of the environment and thoroughly modern.

At Harbourfront Tower Two the gondola is just a part of the world. As the surrounding architecture is a mass of modern steel and glass, the gondola appropriates that image. Because the area feels like the future, so does the gondola.

But that changes as soon as one passes from Harbourfront Tower Two into the port area, leading towards Sentosa Island. There, the system takes on a clunky, old-world feel. As the port is industrial, the gondola feels industrial. The same occurs as one approaches Sentosa Island. Surrounded by theme park rides and amenities, the gondola transforms itself into a theme park ride – nothing more.

In the port area, the gondola appropriates the image of dirty, old and industrial.

This was a totally unexpected experience for me. More often than not, a cable system is located in one specific type of environment. We associate it with that environment and not with others – ski resorts being the prime example. And yet here we have a situation where a gondola is passing through a variety of different urban forms all within close proximity to one another.

The gondola wasn’t imposing itself on the urban form, it was instead reflecting it and appropriating it. It was a blank canvas whose perceived function changed based upon the environment it passed through.

Buses don’t do that. Put a bus in a theme park and it’s still a bus. That’s not a criticism of buses nor a praise of gondolas. It’s a phenomenon that – admittedly – confuses me and one I’d love Gondola Project readers to chime in on.

For researchers and aficionados of urban gondolas, this is the importance of Sentosa. The system juxtaposes itself against itself and its urban environment by passing through several dramatically different urban forms in a short period of time. That allows one to quickly understand its place in the urban world.

Ultimately then, the lessons of Sentosa are more philosophical than technical. It teaches us that a theme park ride does have a place in a dense urban world and suggests a way forward to realizing that image.

Each gondola is also equipped with cup holders. I just wanted to throw that in there because it's amazing. Why don't buses and subways have that?



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24
Feb

2011

Video: Urban Gondola Transit In Algeria

I spent the better part of a morning trying to track down an embeddable (let’s just pretend that’s a word, okay?) version of this news report on the urban gondolas in Algeria. Unfortunately, my search was in vain.

Nevertheless, you should certainly check it out. Unfortunately it’s all in German (no offense to our German-speaking readers). Yet despite that, it has some of the best video footage of the Algerian gondolas I’ve ever seen.

And given the fact that the politics in North Africa are – shall we say – complex, I highly doubt we’ll see many more videos of this quality in the near future. A shame, because these look like truly fascinating systems!

A few stray observations:

  • Strong physical integration between bus and gondola stations (0:19).
  • Beautiful (1:04).
  • While the tower is certainly no work of art, it doesn’t impose on the streetscape as one might expect (2:15).
  • It would be interesting to know what reaction the tenants of that apartment building think of the system (3:15).
  • The station is positively modest in its interaction with the surrounding urban fabric (3:25).


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16
Feb

2011

A Cable Car (Gondola) for Perth, Australia?

Plans for a new Perth Waterfront redevelopment have been released by the State Government with a $440 million (AUD) price tag.

Among the highlights? A gondola. Not too much information, but apparently the $30 million gondola system would connect the foreshore to Kings Park. Decision on whether or not to build the gondola will occur during the 30 months required to rebuild the waterfront.

See if you can spot it (it’s only there for a second):




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