Excerpt: Doubravka is a lookout tower designed by HAMR Hut Architektury Martin Rajnis built using non-traditional building material – thin twigs not usually used for this type of structure, inspired by natural forms from Papua New Guinea and real birds’ nests.
[Text as submitted by the architects] The idea of enriching Prague 14 with a lookout tower was born out of an idea of the mayor of this city district, Radek Vondra, in 2013. He convinced Landia Management s.r.o. to join forces with him in order to transform this dream into a reality. They announced an invited competition, to which we contributed three different proposals, including a highly experimental one called Doubravka. And it won!
What is revolutionary about the tower is the use of a non-traditional building material – thin twigs not usually used for this type of structure. We were inspired by natural forms from Papua New Guinea and real birds’ nests. In order for us to be able to use this type of structure, we needed years of research and experimentation.
The lookout tower stands firmly on three legs. Easily renewable black locust timber predominates. Black locust is the best material in terms of durability, and it will require minimal maintenance. We used four kilometres of twigs, complemented by a spiral staircase made of larch and connecting elements from galvanised steel.
The construction itself was interesting and highly demanding. The individual legs were woven on the ground in a horizontal position. After load testing, they were raised up simultaneously by four cranes. The legs were then connected at the top by a steel crown.
“People who arrive at the lookout tower want to climb atop it. It is the aim of their journey. That desire to look around the landscape might be a substitute for our old pagan rituals, a strange kind of connection with the land. We, a nation of heathens (and in this respect, I get along very well with the Czechs) reach a new dimension of life at the top of the lookout tower. We suddenly feel that we are part of the broad landscape, we feel the winds of freedom inside us, the winds of courage, and these are things of which we have woefully little in the Czech Republic.”
The construction of the tower was considerably supported by the active participation of the public, who contributed half a million Czech crowns. Supporters could adopt individual steps, on which they could then leave their own message.