Lake Seljord is inhabited by a giant eel-like sea monster named Selma who overturns boats and dances on the water -- or so say the residents of Seljord, Norway. Like Nessie, Bigfoot, and the Yeti, there are hundreds of witnesses who have seen Selma in the lake, but there is little credible evidence to prove she is a reality. But that doesn't stop the tourists visiting the famous Lake Seljord from attempting to catch a glimpse of her. In 2008, the town decided to capitalize on the lore by building a lookout tower for visitors to use while seeking out for Selma. Designed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects, the Seljord Lookout Point is made completely of wood and provides a new way for visitors to experience nature, and of course, hunt for sea monsters.
The municipality of Seljord commissioned the Oslo-based firm to design a series lookout points around the lake for visitors and locals to experience the water in new ways. The project consisted of two parts to install a few small lookout points at the mid- and southeast sections of the lake, and then to install a larger lookout tower and exhibition area at the southwest end of the lake.
Rintala Eggertsoon worked with art and architecture students and teachers from Nuova Accademia di Belle Arte and Politecnico in Milan, and scenography students from the Norwegian Theatre Academy in a building workshop to come up with the smaller viewing shelters around the lake. The results of their efforts was a series of three shelters called “Into the Landscape” that provide functional space in the natural landscape, without dominating the surrounding environment.
The lookout tower was then placed on a site with two pine trees with large canopies that create a natural place for rest and recreation. Built completely out of local wood, the tower provides three spaces in which to observe nature — the first faces a bird nesting area; the second is at the top of the tree canopies; and the third is the largest and looks out over the lake. A smaller building off to the side connected by decking serves as exhibition space.
The lookout tower works to ease the visitor from the parking lot to the lake, and provides a means by which to experience the natural landscape in a new way. At night, interior lights illuminate the space and cast the shadows of visitors moving around inside. The tower encourages interaction, observation and a bit of mystery with a chance of seeing a giant sea monster.
Images ©Dag Jenssen