Dutch firm RO&AD Architecten recently built a massive timber tower that looks out from the historic Fort De Roovere in Halsteren, Netherlands. The Pompejus watchtower and open-air theater rises 100 feet off the ground, providing beautiful views of up to 13 miles in any direction.
Named after the first commander of the fortress, Pompejus de Roovere, the tower hovers over the West Brabant Water Defense Line. The area has a lot of significance in local history. The West Brabantes Water Defense Line, which was built in 1627, was an important shipping routes that faced attacks from Spanish and French forces. Fort de Roovere was one of the very first fortifications that used flooding as a defense strategy. Since the area’s battle days, the community has restored the forts and canals and introduced fresh green space.
Today, the area is a very popular recreation area. The tower will be used by locals and tourists as a viewing platform and open-air theater, as well as an information point on the history of the fortress.
Pompejus stands on the edge of the fortress, towering over the moat and slanted in to direction of the “enemy”. The tower itself stands over 80 feet, but because the fortress landscape is 30 feet off the ground, the wooden landmark rises over 100 feet and provides expansive views.
The tower’s leaning frame is made out of steel, but its facade is comprised of a series of asymmetrical timber panels interspersed with various openings. The large cutouts allow natural ventilation and light to enter the wide wooden stairwell that leads to the top of the tower.
Interestingly, Pompejus was a social project developed with lots of community participation. Crowdfunding allowed locals to sponsor the tower’s construction and many local companies funded parts of the construction process such as materials and transportation. Interns from local schools and volunteers from the surrounding community were brought on to assist with the project.
Photography by Katja Effting