A Norwegian Tower Built for Monster-Watching
November 21, 2011
In the summer of 1998, a Discovery Channel team travelled to Seljord, Norway to document the search for a mythological sea monster that had been making periodic “appearances” in the local lake for three centuries. After a fruitless search, the team headed back to America. But as one local historian notes, “local people continue to observe inexplicable phenomena in the water, and the attention has not diminished since the international expedition in the summer of 1998.”
Ten years later, the town municipality conceived of a series of look-outs around the lake that would provide shelter for hikers, birdwatchers, and monster-seekers. Continue.
The Seljord sea monster’s first known sighting is depicted in this scene, in which local Gunleik Anderson Verpe’s boat is overturned by the creature in 1750.
Rintala Eggertsson Architects took on the brief, which specified two main programmatic nodes: the viewing platform, and a small exhibition space. Their site provided direction in the form of two massive trees – the exhibition space is nestled on the ground level on the far side of the canopy, while the viewing tower rises between the lake and the stand. The program volumes spread out over the site, largely hidden beneath the trees, making the approach to the lake “less abrupt.” Rintala Eggertsson say that this gradual accumulation of program “gives the visitors a broader perception of the surroundings and allows for a travel onwards into a more personal landscape and into the myths around the serpent of the Seljord lake.” The experience culminates in the serpentine tower at the water’s edge.
At night, the tower’s facade becomes a light show, a lantern animated by the shadows of visitors inside. The intervention is, in the architect’s words, “a resting point between the landscapes of the known and the unknown.”