The nature reserve, also known as Swan Lake Park, is a large expanse of wetlands located along the coastline of the Yellow Sea; periodically home to thousands of swans who migrate from Siberia during winter. The flocks of swans can be seen preening, foraging for food, flapping their wings, and swimming in the ice-covered lakes—picturesque scenes that along with the wetlands themselves, attract large numbers of tourists each year. TAO was chosen by the local government to design a public facility to provide bird watchers, sightseers, and photographers with a large viewing platform and rest area. Thus, the architectural project encompasses two volumes: a horizontal 71-meter-long bridge house, and a vertical 15.6-meter-tall observation tower.
The cantilevered wood-cast concrete bridge house extends from the wetland to hover over the pond, and the building’s function as a bridge manifests in two open corridors on either side of the building. The tower’s design focus “is to narrate the experience of viewing,” explain the architects. The interior is constructed entirely from wood; one ascends the spiraling staircase and passes openings that provide fragmented views of the landscape. The complex is bordered by a thick pine forest at the rear end, with panoramic views of the water on the frontend—a peaceful site that offers a sense of tranquility.