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chairdrive: to shower and to bathe


drive unit housing of fixed-grip chair lifts


doppelmayr seilbahnen gmbh

project lead:

christoph pauschitz

design team:

chris butcher,

christoph pauschitz,

christian rukower

the chairdrive project allowed us to prove that GP's abilities exceed the creation of innovative design by demonstrating our agile and fast co-operation combined with the renowned GP design quality. on december 17th 2004 christoph hinteregger, head of engineering at doppelmayr, called us with an interesting request. two days before christmas I met the engineers for a briefing and we took the next step towards the realization of an idea, the technical fruition. shortly after new year 2005, we proudly presented the first concepts ...

let's get ready to rumble

the challenger: doppelmayr, the world-leading manufacturer for ropeways.

the mission: redesign of the drive for fixed clamped chairlifts. a new approach. an elaborated, inviting and nifty new machine.

the challenge: regulations and standards need to be taken into consideration when designing a new lift station. technical and economical guidelines have to be fulfilled. technical equipment, such as the engine, cooling radiators, the gearbox, etc. have only little space to be accommodated.

we had to address the issues of the production of the covers: either using a polygonal edge bending or a smoothly, one-dimensional bent sheet metal. no welding, just screwed and many more questions needed to find solutions. another opportunity offered the integration of an emergency engine into the housing. but how would it influence the shape?

the basic approach: engineers and designers had to work hand in hand to reduce the number of parts compared to the prior model.

the alteration of a paradigm

we started to draw sketches of various big objects. a chair drive is something big. it is considered as architecture. during a team meeting an interesting question arose: »what if we treat something big as if it was small, like a hairdryer for instance?« the idea was simple: don't consider the chairdrive as a piece of architecture, handle it like a big, oversized product. a new dimension of shapes was unleashed and our imagination grew bigger than the chairdrive. components can hang down instead of standing up. cladding only where it is essential, just as you would handle a motorbike. feedstock [like meshed metal baffle] where needed, smooth materials near-by users.

closeup of the shower area closeup of the shower area

closeup of the shower area closeup of the shower area closeup of the shower area closeup of the shower area

now we had to bring up initial ideas to simplify production: curvatures in only two dimensions, no spacious deforming. we also strove for avoidance of aligned elements to widen the tolerance in the manufacturing process.

during this enquiring sketching phase three design concepts emerged: we named them after three skiing areas: arlberg, westendorf and diamond peak.

design concepts:

1. arlberg

the fundamental idea: avoid cladding and create a harmonious transition between the cladded switching cabinet/engine and the uncladded/undisguised technology/rope pulley. we integrated a step to facilitate maintenance and an inspection glass.

dipl. ing. christoph hinteregger, head of engineering, doppelmayr »for several years now the doppelmayr development department have been co-operating successfully with GP designpartners. teaming up with external designers has proven extremely constructive and useful.

when it comes to the design of cablecars, function is an important issue. functional requests on the one hand come from the users and owners of skiing facilities in leisure resorts and on the other hand are determined by technological specifications. GP succeeded in overcoming these constraints and came up with a stunning design — whichever project we asked them to work on. due to tight time schedules we greatly appreciated that GP was able to provide design solutions rapidly.

when we developed the drive station for a permanently fixed chairlift, GP provided pleasing design solutions throughout for the housing — after evaluation of their cost and functionality, we picked the most convincing solution.

for design issues concerning any type of chairlift engineering we will gladly commission GP again.«

dipl. ing. christoph hinteregger

head of engineering

doppelmayr seilbahnen gmbh

skiing regions/lifts with the new chairdrive

  • jastrzebska gora [rytro, poland]
  • almlift + häsing [hochkar, austria]
  • prenoval [france]
  • xavi [andora]
  • winterpol [poland]
  • skeiheisen [skeikampen, norway]
  • chelm 1 [maylenice, poland]
  • lift R1, R2, 8 + 12 [bukovel, ukraine]
  • monte flu [obertauern, austria]
  • mali karaman [kapaolik, yugoslavia]
  • vitranc 1 [kranjska gora, slovenia]
  • cennetkaya 1 [uludag, turkey]
  • schartenlift 1 + 2 [bad kleinkirchheim, austria]
  • oravska lesna [rajecka lesna, slovakia]
  • valcianska dolina [valca, slovakia]
  • gazprom lift D [psekhako ridge, russia]
  • wartschenbrunn [lienz, austria]
  • kirchdorfer sessellift [austria]
  • snowfunpark [germany]
  • premyslov [czech republic]
  • himos 10 [finland]
  • galtenberglift [austria]
  • eibenkogelbahn [austria]
  • hennenmoos [austria]
  • le tremplin [france]
  • les sapins [france]
  • roza khutor lift E [russia]
  • zlaté louky 1 [czech republic]
  • kejnos [czech republic]
  • witów [poland]
  • talgar 3 [kazakhstan]
  • bukovel lift 15, 16 + 22 [ukraine]
  • bania [poland]
  • krasija LA5 [ukraine]

rear view of the arlberg concept side view of the arlberg concept front view of the arlberg concept

2. westendorf

intention: transformation of the chairdrive into an oversized chain tensioner. the engine unit hangs on the beam and we stressed this appearance. we used rough materials for the cladding of the areas between tidy cladded and undisguised parts. cladding on different levels allows a wider production tolerance. the lower part of the housing could be cladding part and oil sump at the same time.

rear view of the westendorf concept side view of the westendorf concept front view of the westendorf concept

3. diamond peak

this concept includes a proposal of the integration of the emergency engine. it also reveals a polygonal variation. obviously there is almost no difference between a polygonal and a smooth bend version when looking from the distance. therefore the decision was based on the optimization of the production process.

rear view of the diamond peak concept side view of the diamond peak concept front view of the diamond peak concept

after this first presentation of concepts, the engineering and production department evaluated each concept and decided on one to be further developed.

the chairdrive concept developed further

in close collaboration with the engineering department at doppelmayr we improved the chosen concept. doppelmayr had built a 1:1 prototype to inspect technology and review the design. they started sales in 2005.

1:1 prototype of the chairdrive in wolfurth 1:1 prototype of the chairdrive in wolfurth

the chairdrive is a complete success. usually 10–15 lifts are sold per year. the chairdrive almost doubled the sales and in 2005 22 lifts, in 2006 26 lifts were purchased. so watch out on your next winter holiday, maybe you are taking a ride to the snowy mountains on the new doppelmayr chairdrive [please find the list of skiing areas on the right hand side].

the chairdrive at the almlift [hochkar, austria] the chairdrive at wartschenbrunn [lienz, austria] the chairdrive at the häsing [hochkar, austria] the chairdrive at the schartenlift [bad kleinkirchheim, austria] the chairdrive at the schartenlift [bad kleinkirchheim, austria]