First cross-border cable car to connect China and Russia

7 August 2019
  • UNStudio



UNStudio wins contest for station terminal in Blagoveshchensk

UNStudio has been selected as the winner for the first ever cross-border cable car, which will carry passengers across the Amur River to connect Blagoveshchensk in Russia with Chinese city, Heihe. Passengers on the new line will be able to enjoy a swift journey between the two countries, with a total journey time in of seven-and-a-half minutes. UNStudio and Coop Himmelb(l)au were chosen for the second phase of the contest for the Blagoveshchensk Terminal Station, following a vision round that involved 12 practices.

Since the mid-19th century, the Amur River has defined the natural boundary between Russia and China. However, when frozen over with thick ice, the river supports trade and commerce, fostering a social connection between the two cities. Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio, stated: “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 design creates an elevated viewing platform over the Amur towards Heihe, while 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 at the starting point of the golden mile, a long stretch of golden sand along the river. The terminal also links to the existing Blagoveshchensk Cultural Centre on the other side of the esplanade. 

UNStudio brought considerable relevant experience to the design, having also completed cable cars for the cities of Gothenburg and Amsterdam. Ben van Berkel stated: “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.”
Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

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