All images courtesy of Boysplaynice
In a forested area near Dolni Morava, Czech Republic, local studio Franek Architects has erected a 50 meter tall observation tower appropriately titled ‘Sky Walk’. The towering structure features an ADA accessible ramp that meanders its way frenetically towards the sky offering constantly-changing 360-degree views of the landscape. A series of space-frame columns form structural nodes at the extents of the site. At the top, netting spans across a loop made by the walkway that suspends a hammock the full 50 meters high. For the return back to the ground, visitors have the choice of the same walkway they took to the top, or a 101-meter long stainless steel slide with windows that weaves its way down one of the columns. As challenging as the engineering was for the project, the actual construction posed a true challenge as well. As local safety and construction laws limit the use of machinery that can be used on site, the structure was built mostly by hand, with workers having to climb the structure as it grew taller.
As architect Zdeněk Fránek explains, ‘we have to say that constructing the Sky Walk was a unique experience and that it literally meant a path of courage and self-knowledge to us. So far, we have worked on various challenges and we thought that this one would be like the others, but we soon found out that the Sky Walk was the real thing. We found ourselves in a completely different situation, having to build at a height of 1,185 metres above sea level in a difficult terrain to where all of the materials and equipment had to be transported…another obstacle we had to face was changeable weather. Down in the valley the sun shone so intensely that you could walk about in just your t-shirt, but up there it was cold with strong gusts of wind that made construction work even more difficult.’
‘It is rare to use timber on a construction of this magnitude. It also creates a new kind of experience where people better realise how small they are in the bosom of nature. I don’t know of any other timber construction with steel elements of a similar size and purpose. There are constructions of a similar size but ours takes on an abstract form that suggests the flight of a nocturnal butterfly whose path is seemingly chaotic.
It offers an endless amount of views, situations and moments where an indiscernible human being enters the depth and emerges on the outskirts of this natural structure…‘ – Zdeněk Fránek, Architect.