Experiencing nature is a pretty straightforward undertaking—it requires little if any technological intervention to take in all the grandeur the environment has to offer. But a hike into the depths of the forest is not what the architects at Sturgess Architecturecreated for visitors to the Canadian Rockies Canada. They took first place in a competition to design a new tourist attraction with their Discovery Walk: a sky-high design that suspends visitors thousands of feet above the earth upon a transparent walkway. The Glacier Skywalk is now open to the public, allowing visitors to observe Alberta from an entirely new perspective.
Overlooking the Sunwapta Valley along the Columbian Icefields in Alberta, Canada, the Discovery Walk has been designed as an extension of the landscape. It melds with the cliffs and protrudes outwards from the rugged mountainside with an ever-changing, bold geometric form. A viewing platform stretches far out over the valley to give views of the glaciers below, while adding a bit of a death-defying element to the design. Overall, the walk provides visitors with a shelter against the elements, that also serves to astound them with what surrounds them.
While we won’t argue with the dynamic design of the Discovery Walk, it does bring into question the use of building technology as a vehicle to experience nature. Is this design actually bringing individuals closer to the natural environment, or is it in fact creating another barrier?