Westerpunt Observation / studio MOTO

Westerpunt Observation / studio MOTO

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Context – From the beginning, we were aware of the sensitive location, and the unique character of the place where many different elements come together. The sea with its tides, the beach, the dunes, and the promenade. Belgium and France. Birds and walkers. Water, sand, concrete, and nature. How can we bring all these elements together, and make them more tangible, without imposing them and without disturbing the place? We sought an experience that could be part of all these elements and become one with the place as if it had always been there. Permanent, anchored, yet free. Meaningful. The form we were looking for ultimately answers this question in all its aspects.

Westerpunt Observation / studio MOTO - Exterior Photography
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Westerpunt Observation / studio MOTO - Exterior Photography

Connecting – The observation tower is positioned on the slope of the promenade. If you walk along the promenade from De Panne, the base of the observation tower lies in line with the promenade, thus extending the walk. As you climb and descend the tower, you automatically return to the promenade or the beach. The walk continues. The placement of the tower makes the location a link between the different elements. Position – The view of De Panne is unique, partly thanks to the large nature reserve and the dunes that open up to the beach. This sets it apart from other Belgian seaside towns. The dunes are essentially the city’s main asset. The construction closely aligns with the dunes in terms of scale, height, shape, color, material, and position, thereby enhancing the asset that makes De Panne so special. Dynamics – The dynamic character of the construction provides the walker with a maximal landscape experience. The walk along the promenade is currently linear. The loop makes the walk more dynamic and spatial. Due to the different directions of the stairs, the walker is brought into contact with the various landscape characteristics in a new way while entering the bridge. It offers new perspectives. At high tide, the structure is partially in the sea, enhancing the overall experience. It forms the connection between land and sea.

Westerpunt Observation / studio MOTO - Exterior Photography

Landmark – The dynamic, striking shape, almost a ring, positioned on the sloping plane of the promenade, distinguishes the structure from its surroundings. In this way, it gains its own identity, which we believe can become a picture opportunity. The intriguing shape, despite its relatively small scale, arouses interest and curiosity without being dominant, thus becoming a benchmark and a destination. The transparency through the structure acts as a lens, providing a focus on what lies behind it and creating a link to the place one is walking towards. This works from different directions, from De Panne to Dunkirk and vice versa. Symbolism – “The journey is the destination” is a quote from Confucius that applies here. Once the walker reaches the bridge, it will not be experienced as an endpoint but rather as a resting point. The viewpoint is positioned to continue the walk along the promenade or the beach. It is part of the walk. The path continues over the bridge as if one is climbing a high sand dune. The structure, which can also be seen as a ring, symbolizes the connection between humans and nature, or between two countries. References – Images of nature inspired us, particularly places where land and sea meet, with subtle, human-added elements visible in the landscape, often for practical or necessary reasons, but with respect for the environment. Sustainability & Material – The entire structure is made of concrete, which, with its texture and color, closely aligns with the surroundings and is also resistant to the very aggressive sea climate. The structure has the robustness expected of a public viewpoint. Concrete requires limited maintenance. The material also seamlessly connects with the concrete promenade. Additionally, should the dunes be allowed to expand and stretch around and under the structure, it can stand independently on its own.

Westerpunt Observation / studio MOTO - Exterior Photography
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Plan – In plan, the structure has the shape of an elongated pentagon, constructed from equal stair segments connected at an angle of 108°. Between each stair segment, there is a landing and a resting point, each offering its unique view of the surroundings. The stair constructions also serve as the ‘pillars’ of the bridge. In short, form, structure, and function are unified. The pillars and foundation ensure that the structure can cantilever over the beach and the sea. On the east side of the observation tower, an additional bench is provided, functioning as a resting point with a view through the structure.


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