Three questions for: Dirk Czerwinski, Doppelmayr
Where the terrain is impassable, the climbs steep and space limited, aerial ropeways may well be the best, and quite possibly the only, transport solution on offer. And there are more advantages to ropeways, including low personnel costs, low per passenger carbon emission and the fact that they are independent of other transport systems. Gone are the days when they were confined to ski resorts; more and more of today’s projects are in urban areas – and the designs are as sophisticated as the engineering. We talked to Dirk Czerwinski of Doppelmayr about their new D-Line, which was just installed in Hochgurl, Austria.
1. What role does the designer’s work play in the development of ropeway systems and the cars themselves?
Safety, reliability and comfort are the top requirements in ropeway systems. These requirements must be fulfilled in challenging travel and weather conditions and in conveying different types of passenger. Because of these conditions, the demands on designers are high as all the requirements have to be taken into consideration when developing each component. Therefore the room for the designers’ creativity appears to be small as we don’t accept any compromises when developing with regard to quality, development maturity and functionality. Integrating a consistent, high-quality design is therefore only possible by the design team working closely with Doppelmayr’s development team. Having a profound technical understanding of the construction and manufacturing methods is essential for designers so that they can discuss and move the project forward together with Doppelmayr’s development team. During the design development, the designers acquired a huge amount of knowledge about ropeway system technology that was the basis for the coordination meetings. Only by conforming to the tight constraints of the conditions is it possible to achieve a clear, convincing and consistent design. Working with the interdisciplinary team around Albert Schuster, Werner Sobek Design has shown their skill in agreeing and optimising the technical possibilities with our engineers down to the last detail. This allowed us to work out new design options with the designers and to achieve our goals.
2. The D-Line was presented to the public at the beginning of December 2015. What innovations and advantages do you offer in comparison to other systems?
Doppelmayer is setting new standards with the D-Line. Unprecedented levels of passenger comfort in the shape of wider seats, excellent protection from wind and rain, a minimum of vibration and quiet stations are its unique characteristics.
The D-Line means that projects can be made a reality that to date haven’t been possible in this design. Speeds of up to seven metres a second and a cable diameter of 63 millimetres allow new dimensions in the area of transportation capacity, viable height difference and travel time. Lastly, a huge concern for the system operator was ensuring that maintenance could be carried out simply and quickly.
3. What ideas and principles form the basis of the design of the D-Line cabins?
The D-Line cabin follows the same design principles as all the other components that we have modified or redeveloped within the D-Line project. The design line of the components was of overriding importance. Here it was important to reduce and minimise the components further. This meant for example that when suspending the cars, many add-on parts were either eliminated or minimised to such a degree during development that the cabins had a much calmer shape and a clear alignment was recognisable. In general terms, our goal was to communicate Doppelmayer’s technical precision using clear lines, and to minimise and streamline the shapes. Based on the long lifespan of a ropeway system, we decided to develop a timeless and durable design. Looking sporty was also a major aspect of the design. Ropeway systems are increasingly used in urban areas for public transport, but the main area of use is clearly still in skiing regions. Therefore, we decided to highlight the precise technical and clear shapes with sporty accents to achieve a design attuned to the market.