Not only is the new Giggijoch Mountain gondola a true masterpiece of lift technology, it’s also an impressive eye-catching architectural statement.
Constructed by the Bergbahnen Solden Mountain Lift Company in only seven months and completed in November 2016 – just in time for the 2016/2017 winter season – the €34 million ($39.7 million) project in Tirol, Austria, does not disappoint.
With a travel speed of 21 feet per second, the gondolas can transport 4,500 people per hour with little to no waiting time.
“In the last five years, it was recognized that we had to do something about the Giggijoch gondola,” said Helmet Kuprian, technical director at Bergbahnen Solden. “The long waiting times of up to 45 minutes made the project necessary. In addition, we wanted to offer a more comfortable way to get to the skiing area for our customers. Now, instead of stairs, there are elevators and escalators. The gondolas are running more smoothly, and the level walk-in and barrier-free entrance provide an eased ride.”
The new detachable mono-rope gondola features 134 10-person cabins and opens new dimensions in volume and modern comfort. The cabins offer 8 inches more space and an extremely smooth ride. Kuprian says that prior to construction, there was an intense design and planning period of a year and a half.
“This was followed by a short building time, a tight schedule and the supply of the construction area via the street to Rotkoglhutte (8,727 feet altitude) and the summit station. The coordination of the involved companies required exact planning.”
This latest in ropeway mountain lift technology was developed by Doppelmayr – the world market leader in the manufacturing of ropeways, cable cars and ski lifts. The so-called D-Line was initially installed in 2015. However, the capacity of the Giggijochbahn is, so far, unique, as no other installation of this type can transport as many people per hour.
Twenty-six new lift towers were built on a traverse length of 8,694 feet. With a riding time of just under nine minutes, it covers 3,018 feet in a difference of altitude.
“For safety reasons, the entire gondola is under video surveillance, illuminated and equipped with loudspeakers,” said Kuprian.
Impressive station design
The Giggijoch base station is, indeed, a piece of eye-catching construction. Located at 4,469 feet, the overhanging access area was lifted to a height of 43 feet. Covering a minimum of surface at its ground level, the slim, tower-shaped central part of the building accommodates all technological features.
The base station’s south entrance features a ground-level ski pass cash desk hall with eight selling points equipped with the latest information technology for the entire ski area. Jutting out vertically, the 43-foot access area can easily be reached from the car park by two escalators and two elevators. Additionally, the access area is directly connected to the indoor car park and the ski slope.
“The summit station should be functional, modest and transparent,” said Kuprian. “In the valley, the lack of space and the technical guidelines had to be considered. That is why we decided to raise [the] entrance level to 43 feet.”
Giggijoch’s top station (located at 7,490 feet) features a huge foil-coated steel construction transparent design that not only hosts the passenger station and the terminal located above, but also a sports shop and ski storage area.
The 134 gondola cabins also have their own garage right above the station and matches perfectly with the surrounding landscape. A new tunnel links the Giggijoch Restaurant and the top terminal, thereby guaranteeing a safe supply and transport area regardless of weather conditions.
Passengers at this top terminal can enjoy the advantages of a “level walk-in” which is similar to an underground unit, but offers a quick and barrier-free access to the nearby ski lift and slope. Ten nearby gondola cabins allow for easy access.
“There is no better and more comfortable way to start a memorable skiing day,” said Kuprian. “You leave the gondola in your cozy winter boots and take the escalator or elevator down to the ski storage area where your skis and heated ski boots are waiting for you.”
Sustainable energy management
Both the base station and top terminal are equipped with environmentally friendly and sustainable heating systems that are in accordance to the energy management guidelines of Bergbahnen Solden.
While the base station has a geothermal heat pump system fed by underground water, the top terminal boasts a modern heat recuperation system, including environmentally friendly heat exchangers and two air-to-air heat pumps with concrete core cooling and air-blower heating elements.
Additionally, thanks to a cleverly designed blend of drilled holes in different sizes spread across the station façade and a sophisticated LED light system, individuals can enjoy a multi-dimensional object.
“At night, the mountain panorama gains dynamism through blue lights providing a plastic effect to this unique landmark, which can be seen from far,” said Kuprian.
“The entire light concept was designed and carried out by the
renowned Bartenbach lighting solutions company. The brightness of this custom-staged image perfectly matches the building’s eye-catching architecture and its lighting. And, although the lighted image stands out against the background, you never mistake it for a giant billboard. Rather, it symbolizes the fine ‘Art of Light.’”