The Finnish Institute in London and The Architecture Foundation have unveiled Viewpoint, a floating platform on Regent's Canal in the centre of Camley Street Natural Park, London. Designed by Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola of Finnish practice AOR, the platform will be operated by the London Wildlife Trust. The permanent structure is intended to bring visitors to London's most central nature reserve, connecting them with the wildlife of the park and the Regent’s Canal. In addition, it will also provide the park with an additional workshop space and learning facility, becoming "an architectural focal point of King’s Cross."
According to the designers, "the inspiration for Viewpoint comes from the rocky islets and islands of the Nordic. For Finns, these islands are places of sanctuary, to relax the mind and get away from hectic city life. Viewpoint offers Londoners a chance to experience this escape on a secluded islet in the heart of the city." For the final design the architects were inspired by the traditional Finnish structures of Laavus, "traditional shelters intended for temporary residence during fishing and hunting trips." These simple, primitive, triangular constructions are made using available raw materials such as tree branches, moss and leaves. The design is therefore a contemporary take on the Laavu, made from materials that represent the industrial history and robust character of London’s King’s Cross.
"Old brick buildings, canal boats and the untamed Natural Park act as a palette of materials for the designers. The exterior surfaces of Viewpoint will be clad in dark Corten steel inspired by canal barges, changing in colour and appearance with exposure to the elements. A warm wooden interior will generate soft acoustics and comfortable surfaces to sit on, and graphic concrete with an animal track pattern will form the base of the structure, acting as both a decorative tool and slip prevention."
"Viewpoint will be an ideal location for visitors to reconnect with nature in the heart of London. London Wildlife Trust will also utilise the space in their educational programmes for schools as an outdoor classroom, a destination for nature walks around the park and for viewing the rich abundance of wildlife of the Regent’s Canal including daubenton’s bats, whooper swans and the elusive Kingfisher. To offer a sense of adventure for school children the architects have incorporated small triangular openings at different heights giving new and unique views of the canal and its wildlife."
The platform is now open to the public and is located at Camley Street Natural Park, located in London's King’s Cross (open between 10am and 4pm weekdays and Sundays).