An observation deck at a popular pond in Vöcklabruck, Austria gives visitors a unique view of the serene city waterway- by being submerged in the water without getting wet. Designed by Westpol Landscape Architects, the deck is carved out from the pond’s floor, giving visitors a new relationship with the body of water. By putting the visitors at eye level with the pond, Westpol gives them a water-level vantage point that would otherwise require going for a swim in the pond.
A winding trail leads through the landscaped greenery and down a gradual ramp along the pond’s edge. As visitors proceed down the ramp, the water’s edge becomes higher and higher, as they descend down the ramp and into the observation area. At its peak depth, the observation deck sits at about chest height on most adults, and over the heads of children, making it an even more fantastical experience for them under the pond.
A wraparound bench lines the edge of the observation deck, as well as a central circular bench, for sitting and contemplating. The deck’s floor is flush with the pond floor, but the concrete barrier allows for only a few inches of protection. Should it rain and the water levels increase, water would likely overflow into the observation area.
From afar, visitors lounging in the observation deck look as if they are wading in the water, their dry head and shoulders a shocking contrast to those who don’t know the unique deck is there. The effect is both surreal and serene, giving both visitors and observers a harmonization with the pond like no other.
Images © Roland Barthofer