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Abstract _ Laura Kienbaum

City : aerial tramway : architecture

The research project focuses on architectural design of urban aerial tramway stations in reference to the interrelation between function and design. Until now, Ropeway technology has been mainly used for tourism purposes in rural areas. In the future it will play an increasingly important role in the development of urban transport systems. Large cities like New York, Portland, Singapore or Rio de Janeiro show that aerial tramways can be an economical and ecological way to meet the changing mobility needs in different contexts. Other cities, such as Berlin, Hamburg or Munich and many more throughout the world think about solving traffic problems with inner-city tramways. The resulting structures determine both development and the physical appearance of our cities. Over the past decades well-defined measurable value, functionality and efficiency seem to be the decisive parameters for buildings in ropeway engineering. Design and architectural quality as a basis for aesthetic as well as cultural value has been rarely discussed by investors. Through a new approach to city management, tourism and city marketing the architectural design is gaining in significance. The acceptability of urban tramways seems to heavily dependent on a convincing conception and design. From an architectural point of view, some sophisticated buildings have been built around the world. Against this background, the thesis generates, systematizes and evaluates knowledge about the interrelation of function and design by working on aerial tramway stations in different spatial as well as functional contexts.
Selected buildings in different spatial and functional contexts will be examined based on the following questions: How do architectural designs respond to the building type of an aerial tramway station which is genuinely determined to a large extent by technical solutions and economic efficiency? What intention is associated with it and what specific features result from their urban context? Through the analysis of selected aerial tramway stations it shall be investigated whether individual design aspects are related, or if design qualities can be deduced. Is it possible to translate obtained findings into design elements that are transferable to other design tasks or contexts?

Based on literature review, its evaluation and discussion, as well as the investigation of case studies (description and participant observation), the topic will be processed with several layers. The technical, programmatic and architectural development of aerial tramway architecture is discussed, including their interrelations with social, economic, political and ecological processes of change. There is a critical classification in contemporary discourses on architecture in tourism and on infrastructural constructions as well. A deepening of design specifics, in conjunction with questions about the use of site, program and staging, is elaborated. In this context specific aerial tramway architectures will be chosen that do not only focus on technical and material supply, but also on idealistic and aesthetic value. Cultural and functional relationships, in which the buildings were developed, are included in the analysis. Finally, it shall be attempted to transfer these findings in other contexts, in order to assess their effectiveness. Against the background of socio-economic and cultural scientific reflections, the findings are discussed critically and checked with regard to their transferability.