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Jasper National Park Design by Sturgess Architecture

Architects: Sturgess Architecture
Location: Jasper Nationwide Park, Jasper, Canada
Spot: 450 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Robert Lemermeyer

Structural Engineering: Go through Jones Christoffersen Consulting Engineers
Building: PCL Construction Management, Inc.

From the architect. The Glacier Skywalk is a 1475-foot lengthy (450-metre) interpretive walk carved and folded into the mountainous landscape of Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies.

The corten steel and glass construction cantilevers outward, overlooking the Sunwapta Valley and facing the Athabasca Glacier situated in an icefield straddling the Continental Divide where the North American watersheds diverge to the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Arctic Oceans.

The walkway is based on the idea of cropping out from the landscape, generating an encounter of a normal extension of the land. “We needed to give men and women the possibility to get out of their automobile, to encounter this amazing landscape in a way that would give a cerebral connection to our changing natural environment,” explains Jeremy Sturgess who heads Sturgess Architecture. “The layout is founded in the concept of a mountainside outcropping, to exist as an organic extension of the landscape.”

The parabola cantilever, with a glass floor of tempered and heat-strengthened glass, reveals an unobstructed see beneath. The cantilever is the consequence of an engineering strategy taking benefit of a balance formed by opposing tension and compression members and therefore eliminating the need for a much more standard superstructure of pylons and cables above the outlook.

“The apparent eccentricity of supporting the walkway on only one side is resolved by the opposing actions of a tensile cable support and a compression tube mounted beneath it both doing work in blend with the curvature of the walkway,” says Simon Brown, Associate at the structural engineering company Read Jones Christoffersen Consulting Engineers.

Corten steel was selected for its weathering properties and the relationship to the modifying mountain encounter that it represents. The materiality of the outcropped steel will age. The dimension of the Athabasca Glacier will alter. The two, capturing a capability to mark time with change. The Glacier Skywalk will open to the public in Might, 2014.

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