For pure architectural drama, the recently built Top of Tyrol observation deck in Austria is difficult to beat. Some 10,400 feet high, the deck cantilevers 30 feet over the edge of a mountain, providing a 360-degree view of 109 surrounding mountaintops. Having walked on a similar sort of platform, we can tell you the experience is throw-up-on-your-girlfriend scary—especially because the grating at your feet allows you to look down at the long drop below.
At Top of the Tyrol, the surrounding mountains are streaked with rust-red veins, due to high iron content; thus the platform, made of 50 tons of cor-ten steel. (the same stuff Richard Serra uses to makes his sculptures), mimicks its surroundings. The steep, remote site didn’t permit construction. Instead, the pieces were pre-fabbed then dropped into place by helicopters.
If you can’t get to Austria, you can experience an even more vertiginous viewing platform at the Grand Canyon Skywalk, finished in 2007. It might be only 4,000 feet high, but the drop is steeper, and the cantilever is longer: 40 feet, in a circular, horse-shoe pattern, with a glass floor. (Video here.)
Image via Lonely Planet:
[Via Arch Daily]