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Summit meeting with Zaha Hadid - the new Hungerburg rack railway
von Vera Siegmund | 2/26/2008

One might be forgiven thinking that Bruno Taut's vision of "alpine architecture" has partly come true: With the hybrid freeforms typical of her work, architect Zaha Hadid has taken up Taut's utopian idea of architecture blending with nature and has transformed Innsbruck's Hungerburg rack rail track into an art-scape par excellence.
The 1.8km-long rack railway line from downtown Innsbruck up to the Nordkette alpine recreation area some 2,000m above sea level includes four station buildings and the 242m-long cable-stayed bridge over the River Inn. The standalone shell structures for the station buildings are covered with high-gloss thermo-molded glass roofs that seem to hardly touch the ground at all. The roof of the Hungerburg Station spreads out like a manta ray, as if it were ready to take off at any moment and float away. The flowing organic shapes and their ice-like surfaces ensure the buildings blend with the landscape like the bizarre fringe of a glacier - and in winter, when covered in snow, they merge completely with their surroundings.A strongly sculptural note is set by the two dynamic pylons of the Inn Bridge, which tilt in the opposite direction to the traction. Above all at night, the bridge seems to float rather than bear loads. Supported by skilful illumination of the bridge itself with lines of lights along the railings and decent emphasis of the lower cables, it seems to be a strip of light hovering over the river. When the railcars pass the bridge they are immersed in the light and zip across it like bright blobs of light.
The Zumtobel-Gruppe handled the lighting side of the project, alongside the countless other specialist firms involved in technical realization of the EUR 50.7 million project. They have ensured that the new landmark of Innsbruck, and the marketing strategists and developers hope it will have a Bilbao effect, is also visible as such at night.