Situated along the Great Glacier Trail in Canada, the Discovery Walk design interprets the architectural phrase “natural surroundings” in an extreme manner. The object shifts the attention from itself, humbly accentuating the grandeur of nature.
The 400 feet long boardwalk allows visitors to savor the overwhelming beauty of Jasper Park. Its tectonic structure successively transforms into a glass viewpoint suspended 30 meters above the Sunwapta Valley. Steel was used as an artificial equivalent of surrounding rock, making the design act as a natural extension of the terrain. Use of material and form reveal a strong sustainable approach to building.
Special attention is devoted to issues of accessibility and fiscal restraint. The site is reached via a free shuttle bus 6.5 km ride from the Glacier Discovery Centre. It starts as a high-placed passarella along which numerous educational posts inform visitors about the ecology, geology, glaciology and history of the area. And while getting informed on Aboriginal history and existing wildlife, one reaches the viewing platform and gets a bit of a bungee-jump experience without the actual rope around the legs.
Initiated by Brewster Travel Canada, the design is entrusted to a local team – Sturgess Architecture. The firms focus is set mostly on spatial articulation within the cities, where viewing experience often gets reduced to a passersby, non-presential awareness of place. By winning the competition, the team was given a chance to design relying on intense experience of the now. The Walk is supported, above all physicality, by presence itself. It is what keeps it hovering over the magnificent space below.