Cable Car Chalais – Briey – Vercorin

station vercorin, view from the school courtyard
station vercorin; view from the school courtyard - Image by Katka Krupičková



Place: Chalais, Switzerland
Type: Competition
Size: GFA: Station Chalais 535 Sqm.; Staion Vercorin 439 Sqm.
Client: Commune de Chalais
Team: Martin Zwahlen, COLLARCH - Kateřina Krupičková, Ondřej Janků







Since the 1950s, a cableway facility connects Chalais to Vercorin with an intermediate stop at Briey. This cable car provides transportation needs for the residents of Chalais and Vercorin, students attending schools in Vercorin, Chalais or Grône, tourists staying in Vercorin or going there for an excursion, mountain bikers, paragliders, etc. In Chalais parking of vehicles is provided for people using the cable car. In Vercorin vehicles are parked in the public car park located under the school building. The current cable car no longer meets the quality and comfort desired by customers.The Chalais - Vercorin SA Cableway Company is therefor in preparations to replace the current facility with a new one, linking the plain to the mountain.

The Board of Directors believes that the organization of an architectural competition is the best way to define a project that responds to the setting up of functional and attractive premises for the users of the transport facility. Whereas the construction and civil works of stations and pylons are defined by the manufacturer of the installation and executed by a civil engineering company, all service buildings, receptions, visitors access and external facilities are the subject of an architectural competition, ensuring the comfort of use of the installation around these electromechanical ports.


Chalais Big Section



Station Chalais; View from the parking area
Station Chalais; View from the public square - Image by Katka Krupičková

The bottom station is situated in the corner of a newly designed public plaza. The facade of the station, executed in thin corrugated metal sheets, opens up towards the square in a welcoming gesture inviting passengers to enter a roofed space, get information about the area and buy tickets, snacks or souvenirs. From the sheltered ground floor area, the main stairs are erected to link the public plaza with a waiting zone in the first floor which leads directly to the boarding platform.

The park and public plaza adjacent to the station are designed for locals to gather and for visitors to rest before and after alpine hikes. It is a transition point between the wilderness of local mountains and an order of urbanized landscape. Elements of nature such as local trees and big natural boulders are placed in an orthogonal, man-made manner. The plaza is paved with large concrete blocks and complemented by tables, benches and bike stands for daily visitors.  


Station Chalais - site plan
Station Chalais - site plan: 1 bottom cable station; 2 public square; 3 bus stop; 4 bike playground; P Parking


Station Chalais - Floorplan 1st Floor
Station Chalais: 1st Floor - 1 public entrance; 2 public elevator; 3 ticket office; 4 day room; 5 Bike storage; 6 depot; 7 garage; 8 administration office; 9 toilets; 10 bus stop & bike stands
Station Chalais - Floorplan 2nd Floor
Station Chalais: 2nd Floor - 1 public entrance; 2 public elevator; 3 waiting room; 4 control room; 5 exits


Station Chalais - Elevation
Station Chalais - Elevation


Station Chalais - Section
Station Chalais - Section



Station Briey; View from the Entrance
Station Briey; view from the entrance - Image by Katka Krupičková

All required for the middle station - a bench and a ticket machine - are placed in a small poetic hut with a pitched roof, resting on a massive truss structure of nearly 30m high pylons. A pedestrian bridge made of grooved concrete panels in a steel frame, connects the cabin with the solid ground and enables passengers to enjoy nice views over the tree tops.

"The hut" in the middle of the mountain is conceived as gate to a local village. Its architecture resembles a traditional mountain refuge, saving abandoned travelers from the harsh weather on their journey. It stands as a counterpoint to a new wave of the domestication of mountains, in the form of huge metal pylons delivering people safely to places that were formerly almost inaccessible.


Station Briey - site plan
Station Briey - Site plan: 1 middle cabin station; 2 pedestrian bridge; 3 mountain path; P parking


Station Briey: 1 Waiting Zone; 2 self-service ticketing; 3 Access Bridge
Station Briey - Construction Detail


Station Briey & Pylon 1 - Elevation



View from the waiting room
station vercorin; view from the waiting room - Image by Katka Krupičková

The upper station - similarly to the bottom one - is also wrapped in a partially perforated corrugated metal supported by a steel frame. Its different volume reacts to the spatially limited parcel conditions and the close proximity to a school building with high noise reduction requirements. The facade of the station opens up to let visitors enter and wait for the cable car to arrive. The waiting area is divided into three zones: the heated room cladded all in wood, non-heated roofed zone and the outdoor platform which offers amazing views to the valley. 

The upper station together with newly erected bus stop on the other side of the school building transform an underused assembly area in front of the school, into a new communal outdoor plaza for the village. 


station vercorin - site plan
station vercorin - Site plan: 1 Top cabin Station; 2 School buildings; 3 Assembly place; 4  Bus stop; 5 Mini golf; P Underground parking


Station Chalais - Floorplan 1st Floor
STATION VERCORIN: 1st Floor - 1 outdoor waiting areas; 2 heated indoor waiting room; 3 ticket office; 4 toilets; 5 public changing rooms; 6 exits; 7 existing school building
Station Chalais - Floorplan 2nd Floor
1 Machine room; 2 storage; P underground parking


Station Vercorin - Elevation
Station Vercorin - Elevation


Noise reduction of the cableway: Whereas the construction of the mechanical parts of the cableway were all proposed beforehand by the engineering company and untouchable in the competition brief, special attention in the competition was given to reduce the high sound intensity of the mechanical parts by a design solution of the cabin envelopes. We have proposed several steps of sound protection in order to absorb the noise within the envelopes of the stations and prevent it from spreading to the immediate surroundings:

Option 1 - Insolate and seal all openings of the engine rooms. Option 2 - close the noisiest mechanical parts in sound-isolated boxes. Options 3 - suspend absorbent elements from the ceiling. Option 4 - Insulate inner parts of cabin facades facing other buildings (e.g. the school building in Vercorin) with a sufficient layer of an absorbent material. The noise standards could be also met by decreasing the speed of the cableway which contributes significantly to the noice pollution.   . 


Sound Insolation
From the left: application of sound insulation - option 1, 2, 3, 4


Model Photo