Residents of the hilly neighborhood of San Agustín in Caracas, Venezuela are used to climbing a lot of stairs to get home, but now with the help of an overhead cable car transport system, commuting in and out of the barrio has become much easier. Metro Cable is a network of five stations connecting the hilltops with the city center and the metro system. But the network of cable cars, designed by Urban Think Tank, is far more than just convenient public transportation. The Metro Cable also incorporates sustainable design, renewable energy and smart urban planning. The carefully thought out system also preserves the pedestrian oriented nature of the community, and promotes safe and sustainable development for a better community in the long term.
Metro Cable is a cable car system with five stations for a total of 2.1 km of air time via gondolas. Each gondola holds 8 people and shuttles them between three hilltop stations, and two stations in the valley that connect to the Caracas’ public transportation system. The entire system can shuttle 1,200 people in one hour in each direction.
The stations were designed with future development in mind to become a hub for social activity and community development. Though the stations share similar modular construction and components, each was configured to address different community needs. The stations and areas around them have space for the community can grow into, and can support shops, restaurants, health care facilities, a gym, day care center, new residences, public space for gatherings and more.
Construction of the cable car system was minimally invasive and required little demolition of existing homes and facilities; the pre-existing quality of the neighborhood remains intact. Urban Think Tank was assisted with the design and construction of the network by Austrian ropeway manufacturer Doppelmayr, climate engineers Transolar, and the US civil/structural engineering firm Silman & Associates. Aside from adding more public transportation and contributing to the walkability of the area, Metro Cable also helps address needs for power and public facilities in San Agustín, which is virtually off-grid from the rest of the city.
Each station is designed to support a photovoltaic system on its roof to provide power for the area and the transport network. Until the solar systems can be installed, wind turbines provide power to the stations, which make use of natural daylighting during the day and LED lights at night. There is no need for mechanical HVAC, as each station features a wind catcher to direct the prevailing breezes to the interior. In addition, dry toilets will be installed for use as public restrooms to minimize the need for water. In addition, rainwater is collected in cisterns.
The first line from Parque Central station up to La Ceiba was formally inaugurated in April 2009 and Metro Cable was completed in 2010. Development of the stations and areas around them are still ongoing.
Images ©Urban Think Tank