The Finnish Institute in London and The Architecture Foundation are delighted to announce the launch date for their new floating platform Viewpoint, produced for London Wildlife Trust. The joint commission designed by emerging Finnish architects Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila & Mikki Ristola (AOR) will open to the public on 10 February 2014 at Camley Street Natural Park, located in King’s Cross. The permanent structure will bring visitors to Camley Street Natural Park, London Wildlife Trust’s most central nature reserve, connecting them with the wildlife of the park and the Regent’s Canal. It will also provide the Park with an additional workshop space and learning facility and become an architectural focal point of King’s Cross. The inspiration for Viewpoint comes from the rocky islets and islands of the Nordic. For Finns these islands are places of sanctuary, to relax the mind and get away from hectic city life. Viewpoint offers Londoners a chance to experience this escape on a secluded islet in the heart of the city. Paula Karlsson, Head of Programme, The Finnish Institute in London said: "The Finnish Institute alongside our partners are proud to be offering such an exciting opportunity to three young, talented Finnish architects and bring Finnish design traditions, respect for nature and the profound understanding of the environment to central London and the unique surroundings of Camley Street Natural Park, Regent's Canal and the King's Cross area." For the final design the architects were inspired by the traditional Finnish structures of Laavus, traditional shelters intended for temporary residence during fishing and hunting trips. These simple, primitive, triangular constructions are made using available raw materials such as tree branches, moss and leaves. Viewpoint offers a contemporary take on the Laavu made from materials that represent the industrial history and robust character of London’s King’s Cross. Old brick buildings, canal boats and the untamed Natural Park act as a palette of materials for the designers. The exterior surfaces of Viewpoint will be clad in dark Corten steel inspired by canal barges, changing in colour and appearance with exposure to the elements. A warm wooden interior will generate soft acoustics and comfortable surfaces to sit on, and graphic concrete with an animal track pattern will form the base of the structure, acting as both a decorative tool and slip prevention. Viewpoint will be an ideal location for visitors to reconnect with nature in the heart of London. London Wildlife Trust will also utilise the space in their educational programmes for schools as an outdoor classroom, a destination for nature walks around the park and for viewing the rich abundance of wildlife of the Regent’s Canal including daubenton’s bats, whooper swans and the elusive Kingfisher. To offer a sense of adventure for school children the architects have incorporated small triangular openings at different heights giving new and unique views of the canal and its wildlife. Aarti, Ollila & Ristola said: “We hope that Viewpoint will have resonance beyond its modest footprint and allow the many visitors to Camley Street Natural Park to discover this natural environment -‐ a rarity in a metropolitan city such as London. We hope that visitors to Camley Street Natural Park will enjoy Viewpoint for years to come.” The construction of Viewpoint has been led by The Architecture Foundation, with strong support from award-‐winning engineers Price & Myers. The biodiversity of the site has been to a large extent protected with the construction of Viewpoint conducted off site by Commercial Systems International Ltd. who are well known for their work on large scale art installations. Many local contractors have also been involved in the project with sponsorship from King’s Cross Central Partnership Ltd and involvement from Balfour Beatty, BAM Construction and Kier Group lending support of the project. Sarah Ichioka, Director, The Architecture Foundation said: “The Architecture Foundation is proud to have initiated and delivered Viewpoint, a project that is a tribute to the many hands that have made it possible. We hope that Viewpoint will provide Camley Street with a permanent asset that will inspire visitors and allow the Park to expand upon their existing educational programme for young people. This project results from our long-‐standing and valued partnership with the Finnish Institute in London and London Wildlife Trust.” The Viewpoint commission is the result of the New Architects: Finland_UK Exchange Programme, which brought together new architectural talent from Finland and the UK to explore cities’ ever-‐ changing relationship with water. This programme was delivered by The Architecture Foundation with the Finnish Institute in London and the Museum of Finnish Architecture in Helsinki. Viewpoint is supported by King’s Cross Central Partnership, Ministry of Education & Culture, Finland, Alfred Kordelin Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Graphic Concrete, Price & Myers, Commercial Systems International Ltd, Balfour Beatty, BAM Construction, Cambridge Architectural Precast Ltd and Kier Group.
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