18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

People have been building up for as long as they’ve been building at all, but structures made solely for the purpose of leisurely looking around at things—“purpose-free architecture”—are a relatively recent phenomenon. Lookout: Architecture With a View, a new show at the Swiss Architecture Museum (and accompanying book), offers an almost-like-being-there glimpse into some of the most amazing places to appreciate stunning vistas.

The earliest examples have been around since the Renaissance, but those first towers had a military vibe that matched the heavy, battlement-style surveillance lookouts of yore, like castle turrets or information posts. As the tourism industry developed in the 19th century, so did a range of new vernaculars: from super-basic wooden or steel staircases, whose sole purpose was simply to give your eye-level a bit of a boost, to incredible creations designed as architectural highlights at World’s Fairs and major international exhibitions.

The modern emergence of outdoor-loving eco-movements in the last few decades have shifted the focus toward new (even sometimes terrifying) ways to appreciate Mother Nature doing her thang—think treetop paths and glass walkways cantilevered way out over sublime scenery—but tourism remains one of the driving forces behind adding one of these super-structures to a skyline, be it rural, urban, or somewhere in between. Which is perhaps why some of the built environment’s biggest names have gotten in on the “architectural intervention” action, and really upped the ante on how to enhance our appreciation for surroundings as-yet unspoiled by, well, ourselves.

It’s an interesting tension, really. Are we sullying these spots? Or will these thoughtful, sometimes wild additions help draw attention to landscapes that deserve preserving, localizing visitors in a way that does the least amount of harm? Take a minute to look while imagining yourself transported to each of these locales, and post any of your own favorite places to enjoy epic visuals. [Design Curial]


Landmarke Lausitzer Seenland by Architektur und Landschaft, Germany

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Architektur und Landschaft, Stefan Giers


Anyang Peak by MVRDV, South Korea

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© MVRDV


Aussichtsplattform Conn by Corinna Menn, Switzerland

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Franz Rindlisbacher


Matteo Thun'scher Gucker by Matteo Thun & Partners, Italy

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Die Gärten von Schoss Trauttmansdorff


Forest Tower by SeARCH, The Netherlands

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Jeroen Musch


Grunnfør Bicycle Shelter by 70°N arkitektur, Norway

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Steiner Skaar, Statens Vegvesen


Jahrtausendblick by Günter Zamp Kelp, Germany

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Michael Reisch


Lookout Point, HHF Architekten, Mexico

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Iwan Baan


Lookout Point by Elemental, Mexico

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Iwan Baan


Metropol Parasol, J. Mayer H. Architects, Spain

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Fernando Alda


Murturm by terrain:loenhart&mayr, Austria

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Hubertus Hamm


Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion by Snøhetta, Norway

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Ketil Jacobson


Orbit by Anish Kapoor Studio and Cecil Balmond, Great Britain

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Arcelor Mittal


Reussdeltaturm by Gion A. Caminada, Switzerland

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Lucia Degonda, Zürich


Sohlberplassen Viewpoint by Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk as Arkitektkontor, Norway

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk


Tiger and Turtle—Magic Mountain by Heike Mutter und Ulrich Genth, Germany

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn


Top of Tyrol by LAAC zt-gmbh, Austria

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© LACC


Trollstigen by Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, Norway

18 Breathtaking Architectural Lookouts You'll Wish You Could VisitS

© diephotodesigner.de