Islet, called Viewpoint is a unique urban island hideaway set to bring nature and architecture together on London‘s Regent’s Canal and Camley Street Natural Park. It was commissioned by The Finnish Institute in London and The Architecture Foundation for London Wildlife Trust.
Viewpoint is designed by AOR, a team of young Finnish architects: Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola, www.aor.fi who are at the same time authors of several works carrying Finnish minimalism.
This small-sized technogenic island is an additional sightseeing platform and a convenient place for workshops or just a pleasant environment for relaxation in the nature.
Regent’s canal and Camley street natural park represent the centre of King’s Cross, which is one of the fastest developing regions in London. Viewpoint, this small structure, is the best example of how a human can intervene sensibly in the nature. It creates not dominating, but on the contrary, pleasant, cozy place in the nature. The structure sits in the environment conveniently and represents a medium between natural and man-made settings.
“Viewpoint takes it’s inspiration from rocky islets as they are natural landmarks in open water scenery” – said Arto Ollila to Idaaf magazine. “Islands are places to relax your mind and get away from the hectic city life. Viewpoint gives shelter to visitors and is inspired by the primitive types of shelter traditionally used in Finland and Scandinavia. These traditional shelters, called “Laavu”, blend in to the surrounding nature and offer a place to observe the wildlife without disturbing it. The design shows the sensitive relation between man and nature, the built and unbuilt. Viewpoint reflects the materiality, colors and texture of the surrounding area, but still stands out as a landmark for the park when seen from afar. The architecture is inspired by the industrial history and robust character of the surroundings. The old brick buildings, canal barges and the untamed natural park among other powerful elements make up the raw material palette of this section of the Regent’s Canal.” – He continues.
Exterior surfaces of Viewpoint will be clad in dark corten steel which resonates with the surrounding canal barges. When exposed to different weather conditions the surface will change color and appearance. The hard outer shell of Viewpoint surrounds warm wooden interior spaces. Wood creates nice acoustics and comfortable surfaces to sit or lean on. The floor material is graphic concrete with an animal track pattern that functions both as an ornament and as slip prevention. It also adds a decorative layer to the simple design of the pavilion. In a small scale pavilion materials are constantly at a touching distance from the visitor, which is why the haptics of the materials is essential; the way they look, the way they feel and the way they sound. The materials age beautifully and gather natural patina over time. The structure is built on a floating pontoon constructed off-site and transported to Camley Street as one piece in order to allow quick on-site installation and disturb the park as little as possible.
“Finished structure turned out to be almost exactly what we expected from it. This is a huge thing for us”,- says Arto, ”because it’s one of the first projects for us and also one of the first piece of Finnish architecture in central London. While the structure itself is now finished, there will be finishing touches for the surroundings during the spring. For example, the immediate surroundings will be covered with floating vegetation rafts and the Viewpoint will rise in the middle of those. By summer all the site work will be finished. When the park turns green and the exterior surfaces have gathered some nice dark patina, the project will really show its strengths”.
Author: Nanuka Zaalishvili
Photo: Max Creasy, AOR
English Edit: Nino Namoradze
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