“Building in the Alps is not only a climatic and technical challenge of nature and its forces, which can lead to unusual results, but equally a cultural one. It is always more than the functional design of a building – it is at the same time a reflection of society or the “spirit of the times”.
Helmut Lamprecht, Tyrol Chamber of Commerce, Cableways Section
We are clearly committed to sustainable construction, which we understand to mean the conscious handling and use of available resources, minimising energy consumption and using less land to preserve the environment. Likewise, the user needs and the functionality of the buildings must be in harmony with a high cultural and aesthetic quality.
A sustainable construction method of high aesthetic quality is our clear aspiration. We understand this to mean the conscious handling and use of available resources, minimising energy consumption and using less land.
GLACIEREXPRESS // FAST & ENERGY EFFICIENT
After almost 38 years of operation, we decommissioned the “Gletscherexpress” at the end of the past winter season 2021/22 and replaced it with new train sets. In addition to significantly increased ride comfort and a contemporary design, we also placed a great deal of focus on energy efficiency during the development of the railway.
Particular attention was paid to the energy consumption of the new Gletscherexpress. Thus, during the journey, the train permanently produces energy – according to the technical principle of a dynamo – which is used for the most important functions in the train. This means that smaller and lighter batteries can be installed, which in turn has a positive effect on consumption. We are particularly pleased that in summer we can operate the Gletscherexpress 100% with electricity from the in-house photovoltaic system in the area of the Gletscherexpress mountain station.
The ascent with the new cable car is quieter and much smoother in terms of the ride characteristics of the cable car. This is made possible by a so-called “decoupled running gear”, in which the substructure and superstructure are separated from each other. By decoupling, the noise level in the passenger compartments can be significantly lowered and a smoother ride can be ensured. In addition, the wheels of the funicular have state-of-the-art rubber suspension.
Comfort is also a priority in the design of the cabins. This was developed in close coordination with the Pitztaler Gletscherbahn and immediately stands out with its striking and clear lines. Inside, a larger room volume, a new lighting concept and high-quality materials ensure a pleasant ambience. Thus, all areas inside the new Gletscherexpress can be viewed. In addition, a new Kapsch infotainment system provides all guests with up-to-date information and live images of the ascent and descent.
CAFÈ 3440 // MAJESTIC MOUNTAIN WORLD
Modern architecture in symbiosis with nature – the Café 3440 represents an architectural prime example of integration in natural landscapes at alpine heights: modern architecture that uses little space and integrates sensitively into the landscape (alpine and rugged glacier world). For some it is a UFO that has landed on a mountain ridge, for others a floating, reduced construction that skilfully blends into the mountain world. Aesthetic architecture paired with high engineering skills made it possible to realise this extraordinary building at this altitude – and at 3,440 metres above sea level. The idea of the architectural firm Baumschlager Hutter Partners to place a cable car mountain station with integrated gastronomy as reduced as possible in the sublime mountain world was inspired by observing Mother Nature. The shape of the building follows a snow cornice (blown snow), which remains streamlined in the glacier world. The free-flowing forms bow to the weather conditions and bow to the power of nature.
CHAPEL OF THE WHITE LIGHT // IN THANKFULNESS
Since 1998, a small sacred work of art has been located on the Pitztal Glacier at an altitude of 2,900 metres: The Chapel of White Light, which with its white, luminous Carrara granite forms a strong contrast to the surrounding raw rock of the mountain peaks. It was the wish of the partners of the mountain railways to erect this chapel as a sign of gratitude for the fact that the development of the Pitztal glacier took place without serious incidents and accidents.
The chapel was created by the Tyrolean artist Rudi Wach (born 1934), who lives in Milan. It was a process lasting several years between the client and the artist until the sacred building was ready to be built in all its details. Countless meetings, discussions, arguments, the discarding of sketches and ideas were necessary until the design, the choice of stone, the plan for the altar and the cross were fixed in order to be realised.
The basic framework of the chapel is a stainless steel construction to which 180 granite bricks were attached, which were brought up the mountain especially for the construction and weigh up to 3,370 kilograms each. The entrance to the 8.20-metre-high construction is formed by a 3.70-metre-high titanium portal weighing about two tonnes. In the interior, which measures 4.60 × 3.80 metres, there is a massive altar, also made of granite, weighing almost one tonne, which appears in a constantly changing light through the small coloured windows. A circular chapel path leads around the sacred building. The chapel expresses gratitude as well as reverence towards nature and the mountain world, which makes it possible for the people living in the high mountain valley to maintain a living space through tourism.
SUNNA ALM // THE HIGHEST PASSIVE ENERGY HOUSE IN EUROPE
Mit Übernahme des Skigebiets Riffelsee 1993 ersetzten wir im selben Jahr die Kantine bei der ehemaligen Bergstation durch ein neues Gebäude. In der Bauweise waren wir unserer Zeit weit voraus, denn wir errichteten mit der Sunna Alm bereits vor rund dreißig Jahren das höchste Passivhaus Europas. Das Gebäude wird mit alternativen Energiequellen wie Erdwärme und Solarenergie betrieben. Auch in puncto Materialien ging man keine Kompromisse ein, es kamen rein heimische Holzarten zum Einsatz: Fichte wurde für die Träger- und Bauteilkonstruktion verwendet, Lärche für die Schindelfassade und die gemütliche Stube ist in Zirbenholz gekleidet. Um das Gesamtkonzept rund zu machen, hat man in den letzten Jahren auch das Speiseangebot entsprechend angepasst. Auf den Tisch kommen möglichst Speisen mit Zutaten aus der Region, auf Plastikflaschen oder Nestlé-Produkte wird gänzlich verzichtet. Ein alles in allem stimmiges Konzept.