It's hard to find repose in nature in a pulsing urban setting like London. So the Finnish Institute of London, The Architecture Foundation and London Wildlife Trust just unveiled Viewpoint, a floating platform where Londoners can slow down and enjoy Regents' Canal. Designed by Finnish architects Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola, this permanent structure serves as a placid retreat for visitors to nearby Camley Street Natural Park and as an outdoor learning environment for school children and adults.
The platform’s design was inspired by the Finnish Laavu, a traditional shelter intended for temporary residence during fishing and hunting trips. The Laavu was typically a primitive, triangular shape made of available raw materials such as tree branches, moss and leaves. Viewpoint is constructed from materials that represent the local industrial history and character of London’s King’s Cross. The exterior of Viewpoint was inspired by canal barges, and it’s clad in dark Corten steel that will change in appearance and age over time. The interior is made of wood, which softens the acoustics and provides a warm backdrop for visitors. The concrete floor is stamped with animal tracks, which provide both a slip-proof surface and a nod to the site’s natural surroundings.
Viewpoint isn’t a complicated or excessive building project. Instead, it’s a simple and minimal pavilion designed to give visitors a moment to commune with nature. Visitors to the structure can take in the abundant wildlife at Regents’ Canals, including daubenton’s bats, whooper swans and the rare kingfisher. The London Wildlife Trust will also be using Viewpoint to conduct outdoor educational programs for schools, and the platform will be a destination for nature walks around the park.