Posts Tagged: uenohara



Glass Dome Escalator – Uenohara, Japan

Incline Escalator: As can be seen, the glass domed tube – when designed properly – can be aesthetically pleasing and a delightful piece of architecture. Image by Panoramio user tsushima. 

Last month, Steven discovered an interesting/unconventional use for funicular technology in Horw, Swtizerland. Essentially a small development was built on a hillside, with a funicular acting as an elevator. Instead of connecting floors in a building, it moved between houses on a hillside.

Because of this funicular, it largely increased the hillside’s market value and made the site developable.

At that time, it was thought that this type of development concept was rare but (perhaps) it’s more common than we initially thought — especially in land-constrained and topographically-challenged locales.

In Uenohara, Japan – a city of 30,000 people that’s an hour drive west of Toyko – there exists a variation of this concept. Instead of using a funicular to provide access on a hill, they decided to build a 230m long glass tubed escalator that connects the Shiotsu Train station (at the bottom) to the Komoa Shiotsu hilltop community (at the top). The development, which was started in the early 90’s, is now a vibrant community complete with amenities which include schools, supermarkets and clinics.

Exterior View: Glass Tube Escalator – Uenohara, Japan. Image from Wikipedia.

Interior View:  Escalator ride is ~6 minutes. Image from

This glass domed escalator  is a fine example of an ingenious and simple solution that not only maximizes the development potential/property value of the previously inaccessible hilltop lands, it drastically increases accessibility for residents who are now directly connected to one of Japan’s main trunk railway lines. This escalator connection is also important for the rail operator as it increases its station’s catchment area which brings in more riders. All in all, a win-win situation for all parties.

Legend: ORANGE – Hilltop Community; RED – Glass Domed Escalator; PURPLE – Train Station. 

While the escalator doesn’t completely eliminate the need for vehicles (i.e. there is a winding road that connects to the community), it does encourage and enable residents to be more multi-modal.

This form of escalator/funicular oriented development is worthy of more research and discussion as it could be a potential solution that maximizes the use and efficiency of all lands within an urban setting.


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