PILA-COUIS CABLE CAR

Featuring an architectural insertion that is both powerful and respectful of the landscape and the existing traditional architectural components, the project enhances the deep stratification of the Alpine territory’s naturalistic, geological and human elements. The construction of a new cable car to connect Pila and its ski slopes to the shelf of Mount Couis at 2,662 metres, offers much food for thought on the relationship between architectural design and nature and between man and the habitat he lives in.

INFO

Location
Pila (AO)

Client
Pila

Typology
Sport infrastructure – Hospitality

Competition: 2020

Area
Valley station 896 sqm
Summit station 400 sqm

Professional Services
Concept
Architectural Project

Design team
Filippo Pagliani, Michele Rossi
Alessandro Rossi (Project Leader)
Davide Cazzaniga, Sofia Dalmasso, Marinella Ferrari, Irene Ricciardi, Enrico Sterle.
Antonio Cavallo (render), Stefano Venegoni (render)

Consultants RTP
(temporary grouping of design companies)
Head of Integrations of Specialistic Design
Dimensione Ingenierie, Courmayeur (AO)

Deputy Head
Studio Cometto, Aosta

Cableway Design
Dimensione Ingenierie, Courmayeur (AO)
Funiplan, Trento

Technical Architectural Design
Studio Cometto, Aosta
COPACO, Aosta

Energy Audit and Planning
Studio Energie, Aosta

Fire Prevention Planning
INART, Courmayeur (AO)

Acoustic Design
Studio Energie, Aosta

Structural and geotechnical Design
Studio Cometto, Novara

Civil Power Ssystem Design
Studio Energie, Aosta

Cableway electrical and electrotechnical Planning
Dimensione Ingenierie, Courmayeur (AO)

Sanitary Plumbing System Planning
Studio Energie, Aosta

Environmental Impact Study (via, vas, aia)*
Studio Cometto, Aosta

Topographic Surveys and rendering
Dimensione Ingenierie, Courmayeur (AO)

Project Safety Coordination
INART, Courmayeur (AO)

*VIA (assessment of environmental impact)
*VAS (strategic environmental assessment)
*AIA (integrated environmental authorisation)

Park Associati’s proposal for the competition originates from listening to and interpreting the Alpine landscape and encompasses the imagination that mountains stir in us, synthesizing it in pure geometric shapes. The project’s outline follows the environment’s orographic features, characterised by demarcation elements that divide the space into separate entities: above and below, ascent and descent, light and heavy, light and shadow.
Downhill, the intervention in the village of Pila exploits and follows the line of the retaining wall of the terracing built to create flat areas on the mountain side.
The wooden structure’s skeleton emerges and leans towards the forecourt emphasizing and covering the cable transport system, and takes on an iconographic role and the image of complete renovation of the area. The large flow regulation area at the upper level of the wall is the beating heart of the valley’s project, a place of interaction and a junction between the outgoing and incoming flows from the slopes and from the existing station.

The new station is an extension of the arrival station of the cableway connecting Cogne to Pila, and creates a parallelepiped with a materic basement that houses the ticket offices and all the localized functions at the level that runs along the terreplein. A large covered public staircase is the dynamic element that emphasizes the cable transportation system. The station’s roof plays with the reinterpretation of the gable roof and recalls the alpine building tradition.

Uphill, the ridge – the dividing line that breaks up the top of the mountain into two opposite sides – acts as a pivot. Downstream, the signs of anthropization of the landscape are the key to understanding it.  The context’s abstraction and reinterpretation are supported by an in-depth research into the identity of the Alpine tradition and by architecture’s desire for ‘sober iconicity’, which, far from prevailing, enriches nature and leads to a better enjoyment of it.

Uphill, the station’s bulk sits exactly on the ridge between the two north-south slopes and is cut like a blade into two broken elements. The opposing spikes rise eastward and westward, recalling the jagged edge of the surrounding peaks.

Thanks to its triangular shape, the station can house the arrival station and a restaurant in a single space, as well as offering a spectacular 360° panoramic view ranging from Matterhorn to Mont Blanc. The station’s disembarking area opens onto a large wind-sheltered covered panoramic hall. This ‘decompression’ space – a sort of dividing line between inside and outside – allows the flows to be sorted.

Conceived as a large flexible space, the restaurant functions as an optical instrument for focusing on the surrounding alpine landscape. All the restaurant’s service spaces are organized within a central core, with the kitchen opening onto the room, so that the façades are free of obstacles and offer uninterrupted views of the landscape along the entire perimeter. The internal space configuration of the bar near the entrance guarantees maximum flexibility, thus making it adaptable to various uses.
To the south, a loggia carved into the space protects the façade from solar radiation and offers a secret view. Easily walked through starting from the lowest point of one of the triangles, this area is a terrace connecting the indoor environment to the flat portion of the ridge opposite that can be used as an outdoor area on beautiful winter days and in the summer season.
The materials envisaged for the project were chosen combining Alpine tradition with technological innovation. A timber lattice structure guarantees construction speed, seismic resistance and lightness, as well as a warm and charming perception of space. The casing, an aesthetic and performative element, plays with the transparency and reflection of glass and zinc, integrated by the use of a photovoltaic system for energy production.

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