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Footbridge, Shelter and Bench on Straník Hill

Žilina-Zástranie, Slovakia
1 of 17Architect's Archive

Originally, the local government aimed to construct an observation tower at Straník, as the hill offers an exceptional view of Žilina – an 80 thousand industrial city in the Northwest Slovakia. Since the 1930’s the hill of Straník has been used for flying gliders. Local authorities initiated a workshop at the site, which brought together architects (2021 and LABAK), students of architecture and all stakeholders. The outcome of this gathering generated a consensus, that the idea of constructing a lookout tower at Straník should be reconsidered.

Obstacles

Straník itself makes a great viewpoint, because much of the hill’s crest is not forested. Moreover, the crest of the hill is a protected

national heritage site - around 10th - 12th century B.C. a hill-fort had existed here, what complicates any kind of intervention into the

environment. So in the end the ambitions to develop Straník narrowed down to: how to make this place attractive for tourists, while taking into consideration claims made by heritage conservationists, paragliders as well as forestry, because the area is also used for logging timber.

Solution

Instead of introducing new elements, 2021 and LABAK mapped the existing infrastructure - the pathway, provisional shelter and the bench and translated it into contemporary architectonic language. The subtle footbridge aims to controllably manage movement of tourists, away from the flying, and at the same time provide an easy access to the top of the hill for visitors with limited mobility. The

footbridge levitates above the terrain and the only physical contact is through ground screws. The path leads to a shelter roof, from where visitors can observe the picturesque images of rogallos,

paragliders and gliding planes taking off and flying above the landscape. The pathway leads visitors to its end with a bench, where they can sit and enjoy the panoramic view of Small Fatra mountain range and national park, as well Žilina’s car factory. This project used local black locust wood, which is maintenance-free, resilient to vermins as well as to changing weather conditions.