A Spiralling Observation Tower by Terrain:Loenhart&Mayr 04.08.11


Spiralling above the treetops in Gosdorf, at the Austrian border with Slovenia, this observation tower by Munich practice Terrain:Loenhart&Mayr is a high-tech hymn to the staircase. Rising 27m above the river Mur, the Murturm Nature Observation Tower whisks visitors up from the footpath, taking them on a twisting journey up to a viewing platform and back down to the forest floor in an unbroken loop.

The double helix form – in which ascending walkers cross but never meet those coming down – was inspired by a 500-year-old staircase in the nearby castle in Graz. "It's about the experience of going up a staircase just to go up a staircase," says partner Klaus Loenhart of the castle tower. "The beauty is that it doesn't go anywhere."

In the observation tower, a viewing platform awaits at the top, but it seems almost secondary to the experience of walking up and down the contorted steps, merely a pause in the continuous spiral.

The design was manufactured as a modular kit of steel parts. "It looks irregular from a distance," says Loenhart, "but in fact the joints are all identical when the structure is unfolded." Hours were devoted to finding the ideal stair proportion, with multiple 1:1 mockups now adorning the practice's office.




Terrain/Hubertus Hamm



Oliver Wainwright

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It's about the experience of going up a staircase just to go up a staircase

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