Dezeen Magazine

Wooden cantilevered viewpoint on mountain

Mjölk Architekti creates animal-like lookout towers for Czech mountain

Czech studio Mjölk Architekti has created The Guard Patrol, four viewpoints on the Stráž mountain above the town of Rokytnice that reference the figures in its coat of arms.

The four towers represent three animals – a fox, bear and sheep – as well as a miner, which are all characters from the Rokytnice coat of arms and based on the names of the four Czech villages that were combined to form the town.

Watchtowers on a cliff in a forest
The viewpoints sit on a mountain above a forest in the Czech Republic

The Guard Patrol lookouts, which are accessible via a hiking trail, are located on the Stráž mountain and designed by Mjölk Architekti to let people appreciate the surroundings.

They were commissioned by the municipality of Rokytnice nad Jizerou and give better access to areas that were previously difficult to reach.

The Miner tower by Mjölk Architekti in Czech Republic
Mjölk Architekti designed them to provide better views of the area

"Part of the philosophy of this and other similar projects was to draw people to less frequented places like this and away from the over-touristed areas of mountains," Mjölk Architekti senior architect Tobiáš Hrabec told Dezeen.

"Since the completion, it has become a more frequented place by both visitors and locals," he added. "Several wedding ceremonies already took place at the lookouts as well."

Wooden viewpoint overlooking forest
The Fox is the first of the viewpoints and overlooks a valley

The first of the lookouts is The Fox, which measures 17 square metres. It sits on a cliff overlooking Rokytnice and has a long body with a "tail" that sticks out into the valley.

It also has a smaller viewpoint next to it, known as The Cub.

A wood-and-steel lookout post in a forest by Mjölk Architekti
The Bear viewpoint looks like it is walking away

The Fox is followed by The Bear, which can be found in the woods nearby. The 14-square-metre viewpoint has a square body on four leg-like pillars, depicting a bear midstride.

Further along the trail sits the nine-square-metre platform called The Sheep, which also has four legs but seems to be standing still, overlooking the forest.

Wooden platform in a misty forest by Mjölk Architekti
The third lookout is The Sheep

After seeing The Sheep, visitors need to cross a footbridge to reach The Miner.

This measures 10 square metres and is the tallest of the lookouts at nine metres high. It also sits 782 metres above sea level, which is the highest altitude of all the structures.

As well as creating better views for walkers, the project also nods to historical buildings in the area. The Stráž mountain was one of the places where invasions by enemy armies were signalled from lookout towers to warn people.

The Miner is the tallest of the viewpoints
The Miner is the tallest viewpoint

"(A) more philosophical point is to 'inhabit' the landscape with objects and thus make it more coherent, joining in with the long tradition of building lookout towers in the Jizera and Krkonoše mountains which goes back to the nineteenth century," Hrabec said.

"Finally, the reference to the town's heraldry and history aims to strengthen the local identity of the local municipality and its citizens."

The locations of The Guard Patrol lookouts, which have steel structures with oak cladding, were mostly inaccessible by car or heavy machinery.

To solve this logistical issue, Mjölk Architekti designed the four towers to be built from smaller parts that could be carried from the nearest road.

The steel structures are placed into the rocks using special steel anchors and sit in drill holes that are up to eight metres deep.

Lookout tower in a cloudy forest
The Miner is the highest-placed lookout tower

"The terrain at the site was a bit of a challenge," Hrabec said.

"The contractor was a company, STRIX Chomutov, that specializes in working in complicated terrain such as stabilizations of rocky slopes, and their professional approach was absolutely essential."

Viewpoint by Mjölk Architekti in front of a tree
The project was commissioned by the municipality of Rokytnice nad Jizerou

Mjölk Architekti has previously designed another lookout, the Cucumber Tower, for a rural site along a Czech mountain range called the Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge.

The studio also recently added a "glittering glass extension" to a wooden cabin.

The photography is by Boys Play Nice.

Project credit:

Architecture: Mjölk Architekti and Pavlína Müllerová
General contractor: Strix
Statics: Recoc