Since 1901, a funicular has transported passengers up the Collserola mountain range in Barcelona to the Tibidabo Amusement Park. Cuca de Llum (glow worm) is the third iteration of the transportation system, researched and designed by Miàs Architects.
Merging the functionality of an elevator with a train, the funicular’s counterbalanced cars are able to traverse steep inclines via a system of pulleys, cables and engines located in stations. Their development is often prohibited due to technological limitations (e.g. speed and topography), infrastructure requirements (e.g. space for station buildings) and legal frameworks. This project investigates and demonstrates how to revitalise them for the twenty-first century, recognising that they are an energy-efficient and low-impact form of transportation that offers an exciting passenger experience.
The design research process culminated in a state-of the-art transparent transportation capsule – a technological hybrid merging innovative engineering solutions, manufacturing techniques and design features. It involved developing double-curved glass panels, pre-cast fibreglass pieces, an automated driving system, integrated lighting, and an interactive education and entertainment system for the passengers.
A model of Funicular del Tibidabo is now part of the Permanent Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris.