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Between ecstasy and vertigo: 12 panoramic observatories

Suspended between sky and abyss or firmly rooted to the ground, panoramic observation platforms offer unusual experiences and views, in search of a fleeting thrill or a more essential change of perspective on the world.

Maybe it's out of a pure desire for ecstatic contemplation of the Sublime in a romantic key, or out of a natural tension to overcome the challenge against gravity, or the desire to transcend one’s own limits in contact with a spectacular nature: they are all common denominator in the design of the panoramic observation points, architectures through which to develop a kinaesthetic experience of space and an exhilaration that only the perception of the abyss beneath one's feet or the immensity of the sky above one’s head can convey.

This is how the vertiginous and dematerialised platforms and routes at high altitude are conceived, nurturing the sensation of floating in the void (Mirador del Río in Lanzarote, Grand Canyon skywalk in Arizona, Auguille du midi skywalk in the French Alps, Mirador de Abrante in the Canary Islands, Yuanduan skywalk in China, Perspektivenweg in Austria, skywalk in Gibraltar, Ötzi Peak 3251 in Alto Adige) but also the observatories firmly anchored to the ground that stand out in the territory like totemic presences to offer new keys to reading and interpreting the landscape (Vlooybergtoren in Belgium, Tij Observatory in Holland, Learning viewpoint in Ecuador, Marsktårn in Denmark).

In any case, beyond the dizziness – at different levels of intensity – or the contemplative rapture that these immersive experiences can generate, and beyond the obvious photogenic shots, the sense of these works perhaps lies in the need to learn to look at things from different perspectives, as the wise Professor Keating said in “The Dead Poet’s Society” while jumping on a table, because perhaps only in this way can we rediscover a balance with ourselves and with the natural environment of which we are tiny guests.

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