03 October 2019
The Blagoveshchensk Cable Car Terminal is the expression of a historic connection between two cities: Heihe in China and Blagoveshchensk in Russia. Since the mid-19th century, the Amur River that flows between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe has defined the natural boundary between Russia and China. However, when frozen over with thick ice, the river literally supports trade, commerce, social connection and a growing relationship between the two cities. This frozen river – the surface upon which optimism could flourish between the two sides of the Amur – became an important reference point for UNStudio’s winning Cable Car Terminal design. The building takes this historical connection as an inspiration for the organisation of programmes, materialisation, spatial quality and curated views of both cities. Much like the ice on the river, the building becomes an engine for creating social connections between two cultures and a beacon for a joint prosperous future between the two nations.
Ben van Berkel of UNStudio said that, “Cable car systems provide a new form of public transport that is sustainable, extremely fast, reliable and efficient. Although primarily a pragmatic solution, cable cars are also a very congenial way to travel as they enable us to see and experience our cities in a whole new way. As it crosses the natural border of the Amur River, the Blagoveshchensk - Heihe cable car will be the first ever cable car system to join two countries and cultures. This context provided rich inspiration for the Blagoveshchensk terminal station, which not only responds to its immediate urban location, but also becomes an expression of cultural identity and a podium for the intermingling of cultures.”
The location of the terminal curates the visual relationship between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe. First by creating an elevated viewing platform over the Amur towards Heihe, and second by framing the view from the arrival platform of the cable car back towards the city of Blagoveshchensk. By offsetting the terminal from the existing boulevard along the river, a welcoming space is created for visitors from Heihe and connections are established between the new natural starting point of the golden mile – a long stretch of golden sand along the river – and the green plateaus of the terminal.
A new urban square will form a cultural focal point for Blagoveschensk, connecting the city to the river and upgrading the city with a new space for events and performances. The terminal building itself is shaped as an open and welcoming gesture, allowing visitors to enjoy commercial spaces in one connected movement, with a clear navigational direction towards the departure platforms. The shape of the building also enables the raising of the park towards the roof of the terminal. The terraces and green plateaus act as an elevated urban park, creating a green space for urban arts and sculptures, and viewing points over the whole Golden Mile river-scape. The green on the building naturally blends with the park that is proposed for the area between the terminal and river, as well as with the adjacent parking area, which has a green axis that largely hides the parked cars from city views and the boulevard.