When steel and rock fuse in alpine structures, precision and know-how are essential. In addition to the architectural criteria, integration into the landscape is also a key consideration. All this calls for good planning, professional know-how, expertise and flexibility. Pichler Projects, the structural steel and façade engineering company from South Tyrol, has also specialized in this type of construction over the past few years.
Extreme weather conditions and exposed construction sites
But construction in the mountains, including the top and bottom stations for cable cars, is not without its problems. Extreme weather conditions, short construction times due to seasonal factors, inaccessible construction sites, demanding logistics and limited space are just some of the challenges that call for top performance on the part of all contractors. “No two mountain construction sites are alike; each has its own special features and problems. In the case of alpine construction projects, it is essential to take the individual situation into account in the planning and preparation stages already and always to remain flexible,” says Tanja Pichler of Pichler Projects.
Structural steel in the mountains: pushing back the limits of engineering
The Pichler Projects trademark is evident in many successfully completed cable car projects, including the top and bottom stations of the aerial tram serving the Zugspitze in Germany and the Falginjochbahn cable car in the Kauner Valley in the Austrian Tyrol. The Zugspitze Cable Car, which opened for public services to Germany’s highest mountain on December 21, 2017, is rightly considered a technical masterpiece on the part of all involved. The exposed, high-alpine location of the construction site at about 3,000 meters a.s.l. and the extreme weather conditions there made a flexible style of working and a fast response to changing situations essential. For the top and bottom stations, the strengths of Pichler Projects came very much into their own, resulting in an angular steel structure with elegant glass elements for the façade. In total, around 1,220 tons of steel were used and 8,900 sq.m of façade installed. Pichler Projects were also responsible for the top and bottom stations of the Falginjochbahn in the west of Austria, which were completed in December 2019 and selected for a Tyrolean State Design Award. The striking station superstructures, combining structural steel and full-length glass facades, showcase the engineering that drives this Funifor cable car with its 100-passenger cabin.
Everything under one roof
With such ambitious projects, it is obviously a big advantage to have a company with plenty of experience of construction in mountain locations, as in the case of Pichler Projects, where it is a key item in a wide-ranging planning and construction portfolio. One of the keys to success at Pichler Projects is the fact that the structural steel and façade engineering company designs and produces all the components in-house. The independence of third-party suppliers means projects can be completed on time and within budget. “Our company’s roots lie in a synthesis of planning and execution. We are a manufacturing company that, in addition to experience and professionalism, supplies both the structural engineering and the building envelope from a single source,” says Tanja Pichler.