Seljord Watch Tower, looking for a myth

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The perception of our surrounding is subjective. Depending on the context, sensitivity and on the culture among other things, we see landscapes in a determined way. In Bjørgeøyan, Seljord, Norway, a myth about a sea serpent called Selma deforms this understanding of the lake’s bucolic landscape; it is such a distinctive and historical topic between the neighbours and their way of watching this place that the municipality uses this mythical feature as a point of departure for a development programme for the area and build the Seljord Watch Tower, by Rintala Eggertsson Architects.

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It is part of a larger project divided in two; the first one are three small installations destined to a construction workshop related to the nature. The second, which Seljord Watch Tower is part of, includes also a small shelter for exhibitions. The privileged situation between two pine trees with large canopies dropping shadows and creating a natural place for rest and recreation is a huge responsibility for the architects, and their task will be to conciliate this stunning and beauty nature with the architecture impact and the arrival of larger public.

In Seljord Watch Tower, architects must conciliate this stunning nature with the impact of architecture

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These trees are helpful to make the arrival of architecture kinder, forcing the program to divide the watch tower and the shelter in two, situating each one to one side. These parts are connected with a wooden deck at the floor plan. We can appreciate the division of spaces in the tower in section; the main space is situated in the highest point with views to the lake, but also, it has two more intermediate spaces, one facing a nearby bird nesting area and the other one facing the crown of the two big pine trees. All circulations are vertical thanks to the staircase that runs around the perimeter of the tower from the bottom to the top.

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The outside tour with a platform to the site is the first contact to have a personal vision of the landscape, its history and myths. The importance of the project is not in the construction, but in its relation to the environment. Architects’ capacity to make feel and perceive the place to the visitors will be their success.

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Photos by Dag Jensen