Canada’s First Funicular Opens in Edmonton



The $24 million Edmonton Funicular, officially called the 100 Street Funicular and Frederick G. Todd Lookout, opened this week in downtown Edmonton.A boxlike, cable-mechanized, incline elevator, the funicular can transport mobility aids, bikes and strollers, and runs beside by a staircase for those who prefer to walk. It is located in downtown Edmonton and was publicly funded to make Edmonton’s river valley – the city’s largest public greenspace – more accessible. It connects to a promenade and a raised lookout.Canada's first funicular opens in Edmonton

Photography by Brock Kryton

Canada’s first funicular, officially named ‘the 100 Street Funicular and Frederick G. Todd Lookout’, has now opened as an attraction to members of the public in downtown Edmonton. Designed in its entirety by Dialog Design, this $24 million project has been publicly funded to improve access to Edmonton’s river valley – the city’s largest and publicly accessible green space. Kebony, a beautiful wood recommended by leading architects, was consciously selected for the funicular stairs, cladding and boardwalk owing to its hardwearing and environmentally friendly nature.

Edmonton’s boxlike and cable mechanised funicular connects the promenade to a raised lookout point which provides an unobstructed view of the valley and surrounding scenery. The elevator can be used to transport mobility aids, bikes and strollers, while running parallel to a staircase, comprising 170 steps made out of Kebony wood, for those who prefer to walk. The stairway features built-in concrete seating for visitors to lounge on, in addition to a special path for runners who will be able to jolt up and down.

Throughout each stage of design and construction, sustainability was of significant importance to the architects who required an environmentally friendly material that would have the durability to withstand all weather conditions whilst, at the same time, appearing visibly striking from every angle. The silver grey patina Kebony develops over time will ensure Edmonton’s funicular remains just as breath-taking in years to come.

Developed in Norway, Kebony’s patented technology is an environmentally friendly process which modifies sustainably sourced softwoods by heating the wood with a bio-based liquid. By polymerising the wood’s cell wall, softwoods permanently take on the attributes of tropical hardwood including high durability, hardness and dimensional stability.

Architectural firm, Dialog Design commented: “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.”

Adrian Pye, International Sales Director at Kebony added: “The Edmonton Funicular is a highly commendable project and the team at Kebony is thrilled that our material has contributed towards the aesthetic, sustainable and hard-wearing elements of this project. Kebony’s resistance to wear and weathering and impressive thirty year warranty will ensure the funicular remains robust and aesthetically pleasing despite its exposed location.”

Kebony was delivered by Toronto based firm North on Sixty.