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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Got Vertigo? Terrifying Towers & Glass Balconies


All of your instincts may be screaming for you to avoid looking down at all costs, but when you’re this high in the air, the view is just irresistible. Whether you’re clinging for dear life to a rickety wooden rainforest observation tower or staring straight down through a glass floor at city streets thousands of feet below, frighteningly tall spires and lookouts give us humans a look at our environment that our ancestors would never have imagined possible.

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada


(image via: shidairyproduct, ilkerender)

Do you trust a piece of glass about the thickness of two fingers to keep you from crashing thousands of feet to the ground below? Toronto’s CN Tower, which stands over 1,815 tall, offers stunning 360-degree views of the city – and a stomach-turning view straight down to the street through a glass floor.

Forest Tower, Schovenhorst Estate, Netherlands


(images via:

The thoroughly modern Forest Tower is just as visually stunning as the views it provides of the conservation area at the Schovenhorst Estate in the Netherlands. The design includes spaces and features for various activities including peepholes, a climbing net and even a small performance space.

Willis Tower Skydeck, Chicago, Illinois


(images via: Charlotte Speaks)

If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to float 110 stories over Chicago, the Skydeck at the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is the closest you’re likely to get. With a glass floor and glass walls on three sides, these “glass balconies” provide unparalleled views that will give the acrophobic nightmares.

Bird Watching Towers, Ecuadorian Amazon


(images via: JackMaryEtc)

There’s no way to enjoy the birds of the Amazon quite like observing them from one of Ecuador’s many extremely tall bird watching towers – if you’re brave enough to climb them. But finally getting to the top and finding it twisted from the wind and held together with a string, like one traveling couple did, might be enough to sway your confidence in the structure’s sturdiness.

Eureka Skydeck, Melbourne, Australia


(images via:

Like the Willis Tower Skydeck, Eureka Skydeck 88 in Melbourne, Australia offers views you just can’t get anywhere else in the city. But, it’s not for the faint of heart. 940 feet above the ground, “The Edge” is a glass cube that juts out nine feet from the building. It’s the highest public vantage point in a building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Korkeasaari Lookout Tower, Helsinki, Finland


(images via: arcspace)

The shell-like wooden Korkeasaari Lookout Tower at Helsinki’s Korkeasaari Zoo mimics the large natural enclosures that the animals are held in, and is made of 72 long curved wood battens fastened with over 600 bolted joints. Ville Hara’s concept for the tower was the winning entry in a competition to design an innovative, artistic tower for the zoo.

Blackpool Tower ‘Walk of Faith’, Lancashire, England


(images via: Wikipedia)

With a design inspired by the Eiffel Tower, the 518ft Blackpool Tower in Lancashire, England was constructed in 1894 after Blackpool Mayor John Bickerstaffe visited the Great Paris Exhibition. Among its most popular features is the “Walk of Faith”, a glass floor panel added in 1998.

Burj Dubai Observation Deck, Dubai, UAE


(images via: Dubai Chronicle, WeeklyDrop)

Set to become the world’s tallest free-standig structure, Burj Dubai will feature a 124th-floor observation deck called ‘At the Top’. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls will provide unobstructed views of the city, but anyone who’s not paranoid about being swept away by a gust of wind can venture out onto the open-air deck. This mixed-use tower is set to open in late 2009.

Killesberg Tower, Stuttgart, Germany


(image via: structurae)

This double-helix shaped tower in Stuttgart, Germany features what are essentially two gigantic intertwined spiral staircases suspended by cables around a central support. Getting to the top is no easy feat, but the reward is great.

Shanghai Expo Tower, China


(image via: Expo 2010)

A 495-foot tall chimney at the oldest power plant in China is getting a dramatic makeover for the World Expo 2010. It is set to be transformed into an observation tower called the “Expo Harmony Tower”, its exterior wrapped with tracks and cars similar to a rollercoaster to transport passengers to the top. The entire former high-pollution plant is being revamped into an eco-friendly attraction that uses electricity generated by tide, wind and solar energy.

Glasgow Tower, Scotland


(images via: Wikipedia)

The tallest tower in Scotland is also the only tower in the world that can rotate 360 degrees from its base to its top. It’s shaped like an aerofoil, or an airplane wing seen in cross-section, and has computer-controlled monitors that turn it in the wind to reduce wind resistance.

Green Observation Towers Concept


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Could we replace smokestacks with eco-friendly, green power-generating towers that also serve as public spaces with observation decks? Designer Michael Jantzen thinks so, and has created several designs that would do just that. The Wind Turbine Observation Tower has five wind-activated segments that rotate in different directions to produce energy, while the Eco-Tower is a public gathering space equipped with seven platforms and a custom wind turbine.

Cheongna City Tower, South Korea


(images via:

South Korea is getting a new landmark tower that will serve as the cultural hub and centerpiece of a large new town development. The 1,476-foot observation tower appears to jut sharply into the sky like an inverted icicle, with the second-highest observation deck in the world. It’ll also be pretty high-tech, becoming the world’s first “invisible tower” with a skin system that uses optical cameras to capture the views from the opposite wall and project those images on each part of the skin. This effect will make the tower itself seems to disappear when you’re inside, leaving nothing but sweeping views.