Every day we are faced with the eternal dilemma of wanting to protect nature on the one hand because we love it so much, and on the other to be able to make the most of it. This explains our desire for scenic lookouts, observation points and towers that give us a bird's-eye view of the beauties of the landscape, as we can see in many countries, Norway first and foremost with all the government projects along the scenic routes of the Scandinavian country (link Agnese).
The project by the Czech firm Huť architektury headed by Martin Rajniš and David Kubík, together with the engineers Tomáš Fremr and Ondřej Orság is the result of a private initiative by the operators of the Kraličák ski resort, who wanted to somehow mark the centre of the resort between the villages of Hynčice and Stříbrnice at the highest point on top of Štvanice mountain (866 m asl). A prominent position for a lookout tower where people are gifted with views across the whole landscape dominated by mountains and forested hills and that the team designed as a year-round attraction. This attraction makes the ski lift station at the top of the mountain more sustainable because, while it is very popular in winter, it often lies dormant in summer.
The tall, slender tower stands out on the mountains like an obelisk, according to the architects, or perhaps also like the trunk of a very large tree sitting on its own. This is because of its shape and the use of larch wood as the main material, together with local stone for the footing, harmonising with the tradition of the location.
Huť architektury reiterated the classic shape of a lookout tower: the vertically-positioned tree trunks are connected to each other and hold up the actual viewing platform, which is protected from the strong winds by safety glass. A 152-step, wooden spiral staircase winds its way up to the top through the centre of the tower. The staircase form was studied to balance the wind load, ice and snow that were the major challenge in this project and that also influenced the sizing of the actual structure.
At the 5-metre mark, the trunks are connected by a steel joint to which a reinforcement triangle is fixed. At the same time, steel cables anchored in the ground at a distance of 15 metres from the tower cushion the horizontal and torsional forces. Even the lifetime of the viewing tower depends on the choice of materials. Larch wood is extremely weather resistant and has been pressure treated to make it stronger and low-maintenance. The wood doesn't come into direct contact with the land because of the footing, which also makes them longer-lasting. With all these 'tricks of the trade', the tower is estimated to last about thirty years. In that time - and with a limited impact on the environment - visitors can enjoy the dramatically beautiful views of the landscape over the top of everything, which is the very purpose of the project.
Architect Huť architektury Martin Rajniš s.r.o – MgA. David Kubík
Project location Ski resort Kraličák, Hynčice pod Sušinou, Czech Republic
Project year 2017
Completion year 2018
Area 18 m², 12 m²
Photo credits Jakub Skokan, Martin Tůma / BoysPlayNice, www.boysplaynice.com
Co-authors Structural stability: Static solution s.r.o. – Tomáš Fremr, PhD.
Project and realization: Taros Nova s.r.o. – Ondřej Orság