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UNIG-vision: product design XXL


station for ropeways with detachable chairs and gondolas


doppelmayr seilbahnen gmbh

project lead:

christoph pauschitz

design team:

lukasz bertoli,

peter petendi,

christian rukower,

christina zwittag

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after we had successfully redesigned the drive unit for the fix clamped chairlift our client doppelmayr asked us to redesign the station for ropeways with detachable chairs and gondolas, known as the UNIG model, as well. we created a dynamic, elegant and powerful looking housing: the UNIG-vision.

according to our internal standards we started by analyzing the current situation: how does the surrounding area of a station look like? what people are using the ropeways and chairlifts really. to define the new visual language of the station we researched what other products are used in these areas?

a snowgun missing missing

when working on such an object, one should be aware that not only ski tourists are using the lifts. there are other users as well, such as people that only want to visit the restaurant on top of the mountain, that want to take a sunbath or, in summer months, only want to hike.

missing missing

after some internal discussions three keywords emerged out of the research phase: speed, elegance and power. the new station shall communicate that values.

keyword: speed keyword: elegance keyword: power

but those mental connections were just one aim of the design work. we also wanted to change the perception of the station in general. a station for chairlifts is not a restaurant, it is not a house to live in. »so, why for heaven's sake do these objects always look like one?« we asked ourselves. why does it remind us of a house?

thus we ignited a paradigm shift in our team, in our approach and in the mind of our client. in fact, GP designpartners are product design experts, not architects. that's why we finally resolved to treat the station like a product.

missing missing

firstly: it shall not remind one of a house, and for sure not of an old hut.

secondly: the size doesn't necessarily mean something is an architecture. it is a matter of context and we can think of diverse products of our everyday life that, after changing the context, changes their appearance from product to architecture.

a tower of apple mac minis the apple powermac with dual g5 opened steve jobs and the iPod

the drive-unit of a lift is a machine. yes, a huge machine, indeed. and it is a technical product, an investment good, something that has to look stylish, but is not allowed to be designed "just for design". it has to make economical sense, has to be a functional, yet still a sexy looking object that is coincidentally big.

missing the ducati missing

you might understand what we mean if you think of a motorcycle. by looking at a motorcycle you can't tell for the most part what is cladded and what is not. sometimes even the engine block is a design object by itself. it's a fuzzy edge between cladded and uncladded parts, designed and »undesigned« parts. the tank, for instance, looks the way it does because it has to be a closed part. in fact, this part of a motorcycle defines the appearance significantly, but you can't say it is the cladding, because if you leave it out the bike is no longer usable. at best we would achieve such an integration of functionality and appearance.

sketching ... ... and sketching closeup of the shower area renderings: concept "hoover" renderings: concept "drift" renderings: concept "drift" renderings: concept "blizzard" renderings: concept "blizzard"

in the case of a lift station the housing has the purpose to protect the technology against the weather.

therefore: the duty of design was to dissolve the appearance of a house. we developed different concepts of the new, huge product.

in close relationship with the engineers at doppelmayr we refined the concepts, ironed out the details and finally came up with a solution that vastly improves the appearance of a lift station, but yet still meets the technical and economical parameters. looking at the list of newly implemented lifts the new UNIG-vision seems to be the flavour of the year.

the UNIG-vision at hochmoos the UNIG-vision at hochmoos, photo by laurentius huppenberger the UNIG-vision at lermoos/hochmoos

dipl. ing. peter luger, product development manager ropeways, doppelmayr »with the design of the UNIG-Vision, the designers of GP gave a brand new look to the successful UNIG System. driven by their will to optimize the production, they focused to create design solutions that could be realized without complex, and costly, glass fibre reinforced plastics. personally, i really appreciated the good, straightforward and successful cooperation with GP designpartners.«

dipl. ing. peter luger

product development manager ropeways

doppelmayr seilbahnen gmbh

skiing regions/lifts with the new UNIG-vision in 2007

8-seater gondola ropeway 6-seater detachable chairlifts