What is Zaha Hadids drawing about

Building glaciers with your hands

She has always had opponents. When the fire station in Weil am Rhein was converted into a design museum, the world laughed its sleeve. The building turned out to be completely unsuitable for the planned use. The curve radii were too narrow, in the rush of the burning battle the firefighters couldn't drive out of the fire station without reversing. But Hadid knows how to answer: "The fire station was later converted into the Vitra Museum because there were many curious visitors who were drawn to this architecture."

You have to give the powerful lady from London one thing: Zaha Hadid never let herself get down. "If I had ever allowed myself to be influenced by international opinion about my work, I would have given up on my work twenty years ago," she says today, playing with her massive silver ring, clacking on the floor with her high-heeled stilettos, "if you want your imagination then you have to exhaust them. " Point.

Hadid's latest litter is the Hungerburgbahn in Innsbruck. The cable car stations act like ambassadors from a distant architectural future. As if the glass structures had been breathed into life, they rest on a massive base made of exposed concrete and are about to concentrate their inherent forces and lift off with a flourish at any moment. Why are the glass roofs the way they are? "We made a conscious decision to use this elastic design language so that we can better adapt to the respective conditions on site," explains Thomas Vietzke, project manager in Zaha Hadid's office have to assert different urban planning influences. " Flowing ice landscapes

Hadid himself provided the somewhat more nimble explanation at the opening two weeks ago: "The architecture seems to flow. We have left the steel construction invisible so that the impression of a flowing ice and glacier landscape is created. After all, we are here in the middle of the Alps." The glacier landscape is of course not meant literally, although architects have always tried to imitate nature. "In this project, however, it was technically possible. We came very close to the shape of flowing ice."

True, the smooth glaciers have suffered huge scratches. That is a shame, because large high-end architecture like this one needs a sure instinct and finesse down to the smallest detail. In the case of the Hungerburgbahn, Hadid has once again proven that its architecture is light years ahead of the laws of what is technically feasible. The brave skiers, snowboarders and weekend-happy retirees march through the stations with open mouths and stretch their heads upwards. "Yeah, the Hadid." But there: an outstretched index finger in the middle of an ordinary glass joint, where two panes of glass whiz skewed past each other instead of lying flush in a surface: "It's not good."

"Dealing with architecture like this is not easy," admits Christian Schleich. He is the project manager in the Malojer planning office in Innsbruck, which was responsible for the general planning of structural engineering and was responsible for translating Hadid's bold moves into reality. Not an easy task. "The most difficult thing was that we didn't know when we were bidding that we would be working with Zaha Hadid." The costs of 35 million euros (total amount of building construction, civil engineering and cable car technology) had to be adhered to - of course, the client Strabag, the city of Innsbruck, the state of Tyrol and the Innsbruck-Igls tourist office did not turn a blind eye.

You had to cheat. The production of the 1200 panes of glass, which totaled 2.18 million euros, was quickly outsourced to China for financial reasons. "We had no other choice, but in retrospect, the cooperation with China turned out to be a problem," said Schleich, "the quality simply does not meet our specifications. We criticized a third of the glasses." Too short, too wide, too flat, too imprecise.

The 300 criticized panes were still installed. After all, the author Zaha Hadid, who saw the new stations for the first time at the opening, had to offer a pretty picture to the around 80 journalists from all over the world and the tens of thousands of visitors. According to the Malojer office, it is still open whether, how and when the defective glass panes will be replaced in the coming months.

"We have seen that companies and even individual people come up against the limits of what is feasible in their work," says Christian Schleich. The state of the art is not that far. "But apparently that is precisely what is an indication of contemporary and innovative architecture. Otherwise there would be no progress."

This is entirely in the spirit of Hadid: "Personally, I believe very strongly in developments and inventions," the architect explains in an interview, "but the biggest problem is that the others don't believe in them. They just can't imagine that one imagines can do with your own hands. " First PPP in ropeway construction

And what does Hans Peter Haselsteiner, co-initiator of the first public-private partnership in the area of ​​ropeway construction, say? After all, the Strabag boss has invested an impressive 13.5 million euros in the overall Hungerburgbahn and Nordkettenbahn project and will now collect the income for a period of 30 years. "It is a project that I hope will also convince the critical voices in Innsbruck. Anyone who takes the Hungerburgbahn for the first time, gets off at the top and then sees the sculptural architecture, has to - if they are not blind or one Has prejudice - probably acknowledge: this is something that the people of this city can be proud of. "

Finger-thick silicone in the joints, crooked glasses and a botched contract to China - that's one side of the project. But the critical eye of the architecture connoisseur will not last. Much more important is that Innsbruck has taken another step towards the Alpine metropolis with the Hungerburgbahn. After the town hall (Dominique Perrault), the Kaufhaus Tyrol (David Chipperfield), which is currently under construction, the ski jump at Bergisel (also Zaha Hadid with Malojer) and several promising projects from the pen of local architects, Innsbruck is once again on the architecture map.

The times when bus groups stopped in Innsbruck on their way to South Tyrol to get some fresh air and pose just in front of the Golden Roof - those are over. (Wojciech Czaja, ALBUM / DER STANDARD / print edition, December 15/16, 2007)