Mechanized River Valley Access
Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada | View Map
Project Year: 2017
Closer to Nature
Connecting downtown Edmonton to the network of river valley trails and, conversely, a journey from the valley floor up the slope to the downtown urban core.
The project is an entrance to the river valley for everyone, regardless of age and ability, and a focal point that will bring people together in the heart of Edmonton. It allows Edmontonians to become tourists in their own backyard. The City of Edmonton has long sought to improve connectivity for the public between urban areas and the North Saskatchewan River valley, and this project is a major step towards greater connectivity throughout the city.
Step by step
100 Street Funicular is more than just a funicular! An urban staircase follows the slope alongside the funicular, between the historic Fairmont Hotel MacDonald and a promenade midway through the valley. The boardwalk and promenade features public art and space to rest and enjoy the view. A pedestrian bridge carries visitors over traffic and leads to the Frederick G. Todd Lookout that hovers 19m above the river valley. At the southern end of the project, a glass elevator connects the pedestrian bridge to over 160 km of river valley trails.
Edmonton’s funicular is one of a kind. It’s one of only a handful around the world that doesn’t require an on-site operator. It can hold up to 20 people at a time and is long enough to accommodate an adult bike with child trailer. Users maintain the same direction of travel—they just walk or wheel in then continue in the same direction as they exit. Its maximum speed is about 2m/s. When the cabin is moving downhill, it rotates the motor and generates electricity that is returned to the grid, lowering the overall energy usage.
Take in the view
The Frederick G. Todd Lookout is a highlight of the journey. Past the elevator, the bridge gently rises to cantilever about 20m to the edge of the river. Visitors are encouraged to walk out towards the water, pause for a moment and enjoy the view of the river valley. A glass railing provides a seamless, breathtaking experience.
Elegant and sustainable
The materiality and overall form of the project are heavily influenced by the existing connective infrastructure of the city’s river valley system. The river valley is connected by a series of meandering wood stairs, boardwalks, and weathering steel foot bridges and this is an experience that is reinforced through the design. Kebony wood is used on the boardwalk and architectural cladding. Not only does it look beautiful and provide warmth, it has excellent dimensional stability and resistance to rot, designed to last 6 times longer than pressure-treated wood.