Everyone hates the Vessel, the stairway to nowhere for capitalism’s grifters at the heart of New York’s latest mirage of a neighborhood, Hudson Yards. Perhaps that’s why it’s so refreshing to see an observation tower that actually leads somewhere meaningful beyond an Instagram selfie frame: the Camp Adventure Observation Tower in Denmark.
While the Vessel is a “colossal shawarma” shoehorned between skyscrapers that, according to its critics, amounts to nothing more than an Instagram-friendly panopticon to obverse others and be observed, this observation tower has a higher purpose.
Instead of taking you down into your worst social media version of yourself, this tower, designed by Danish architects Effekt, aims to elevate your body and spirit. It has a 2,952-foot-long boardwalk that zigzags between the trees of the Gisselfeld Klosters Forest. As you advance along the path, you see different angles of the forest with each step and turn. It also serves as an easy way for those with disabilities to reach the tower on a wheelchair, since it doesn’t have any stairs.
At the end of the path, you reach a 147-foot-tall tower made of weathered steel and locally sourced oak wood. Rather than entering a maddening Escher-like stair structure, the boardwalk transforms into a spiral with a slope gentle enough for anyone to ascend it.
Here, your perspective of the forest shifts gradually as you climb. The land reveals itself in all its glorious beauty, as the architects describe it: “A glacial woodland characterized by rolling hills, ephemeral streams, lakes, wetlands, and meadows [. . . ] a changing landscape experience that is influenced by the rich bird life and the seasons changes.”
This is architecture at its best: thoughtful of both the people using it and the environment surrounding it. Unlike some buildings we know.