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The structure appears to defy gravity. Its red-brown colour is a reference to the ironstone found locally

STAIRWAY TO THE SKY Project: Vlooyberg Tower Location: Tielt Winge, Belgium Architects: Close to the Bone Architecture practice Close

“Modelling the Vlooyberg Tower

to the Bone have blurred the

was a war against its own weight.”

boundary between a stairway

The tower is more than 11m (36ft)

and an observation tower

high and and is built on a galvanised

by building a gravity-defying

sub-structure clad in weathering steel,

monument in a Belgian forest.

a reference to the red-brown colour

The studio were commissioned

of the ironstone found in the region.

to build an observation point in the

To ensure the structure would

municipality of Tielt-Winge, after

be strong enough and would not

a popular wooden lookout tower

sag, Close to the Bone manually

was destroyed by arsonists.

calculated the forces acting in each

The brief called for a new

element and selected a suitable form

landmark that could survive the

and dimensions. As a result, the

elements and attack from vandals.

tower weighs less than 13 tonnes.

Their solution was Vlooyberg

A railing wall functions as a

Tower, a huge corten steel stairway

structural beam that makes the steel

that raises up from the ground

structure strong and stable enough

seemingly without support.

to withstand the forces acting on it,


“Instead of a conventional construction with a spiral staircase, we conceived a suspended volume

while two shock absorbers stop the tower from vibrating under foot. The structure was fully

without too many decorative frills,”

prefabricated and assembled on site

said the studio in a statement.

section by section in just half a day.