In 2019, French design agency Atelier 360 gave the iconic Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular a dramatic makeover by developing two new funicular cars with wide panoramic windows to frame spectacular views of the French Alps. As with its predecessor, the newly completed funicular traverses 800 meters of vertical distance in a 7-minute climb to connect the village of Bourg Saint Maurice to the Arcs 1600 resort, an area near Mont Blanc renowned for skiing and mid-century architecture by French modernist architect Charlotte Perriand. The interior of the funicular was also designed to take advantage of natural ventilation to avoid installation of an electric air conditioning system.
Originally built in 1989, the Les Arcs – Bourg Saint Maurice funicular was renovated and relaunched in 2019 in commemoration of the Les Arcs ski resort’s 50th anniversary. The refreshed funicular comprises two trains, each capable of accommodating 270 passengers, with all-new equipment manufactured entirely in France. The funicular allows visitors — approximately 600,000 people are estimated to use the transport system annually — to reach slopes at 1,600 meters above sea level. The design and construction process took about a year to complete; Atelier 360 collaborated with the Poma / Sigma teams for the interior design.
“The new version imagined by Atelier 360 is not just a simple transport tool that should offer a large capacity, it is a real immersion experience in the landscape that we discover at as the ascent,” the designers explained. “The original funicular did not offer a view of the outside landscape because of its massive structure, the opaque roof and the ends reserved for the conductors prevented this. Today the roof of the vehicle is fully glazed and an intermediate relief creates a new panorama of the mountains.”
The trains have been specially designed to optimize views of the breathtaking scenery from both ends. A system of operable windows and air vents, also located at the end of the trains, promote natural cooling.
Photography by sylvain THIOLLIER via Atelier 360