A man stands on the deck of the UFO-like building overlooking the mountain

Mjölk Architekti Cofounders Build a UFO-like Observation Deck in Czechia

Some sites are more difficult to build on than others. But it’s hard to imagine one trickier than the rocky summit of Malý Špičák, a 2,200-foot-tall mountain peak in Czechia. Nevertheless, that’s where Mjölk Architekti cofounders Jan Vondrák and Jan Mach put their Lookout Spike, an observation deck overlooking the northern mountain town of Tanvald.

Absent any flat ground to sit on, the 150-square-foot fiberglass platform hovers UFO–like above the rocks on three thin stainless-steel legs, its aerodynamic shape a nod to the bobsled track that used to start here (and inspired the project’s sporty photo shoot). Hikers can ascend a metal ladder through an aperture in the deck to view the surrounding Slavkovský Forest protected area and the valley below. “Our goal was a structure that is small but distinctive,” Vondrák says. “It’s like a delicate dewdrop that barely touches the rock.”

“Building in a landscape like this is a different architectural discipline,” Mach adds, noting the way the backdrop is always changing with seasons and weather. “The only lasting context is the starry sky.” The difficulty, of course, is in creating something that adds to the landscape rather than detracts from it.

looking upward at the UFO-like structure

Mjölk, which has completed four other lookouts throughout Czechia in the last decade, addressed this challenge by wrapping the bottom of the Lookout Spike in mirror foil, which abstracts its form when viewed from below. Trees, rocks, and people are reflected on the structure’s underside so that, as is true of the vista from the deck above, you never get the same view twice.

A man stands on the deck of the UFO-like building overlooking the mountain

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