Watchtower Koksijde

De hoge blekker

Sober and modest with the expressive power of a landmark. The watchtower on the Hoge Blekker is an eye-catcher and tourist attraction that blends seamlessly into its surroundings. The transparent wooden construction brings landscape and landmark together: in color the watchtower connects smoothly with the silver-grey dune landscape, but the expressive shape makes the watchtower the eye-catcher. The tower enables a new experience of the landscape and offers a new perspective.
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Bart Reuser, Marijn Schenk, Michel Schreinemachers with Jouke Sieswerda, Jorn Kooijstra, Lisette Janssen, Marta Lata, Felix Kruger, Bastiaan Luijk, Joost Lemmens

Exploring the dunes

The lookout point will be realized on the Hoge Blekker in Koksijde, the highest dune on the Belgian coast. For centuries the dune itself was the eye-catcher and a landmark for residents and sailors, but as the vegetation on the dune increased and surrounding buildings advanced, the dune lost its role as a landmark. The watchtower once again gives the dune a recreational destination with a belvedere to experience the beautiful view of the surroundings. De Hoge Blekker reflects the field of tension between landscape and eye-catcher, between integrated and autonomous, between movement and residence, and between past and present. The design builds on the history of the site and is in line with the identity and experience of the dune.

Connecting landscape and landmark

In the sand of the dunes, a raised plateau marks the base of the tower. A helix-shaped staircase leads the visitor up to a second plateau, located at a height of 20 meter. The wooden construction’s open and refined structure gives the tower a transparent look. The experience is intensified by the existence of two routes: the way up is closed by the wooden lamellae, which partially shroud the view on the surrounding landscape, in order to be fully enjoyed upstairs. The journey downstairs is open to strengthen the descending experience. This interplay between open and closed and between extrovert and introvert reinforces the experience of the landscape and of the tower itself.

Creating a new perspective

The design seeks an architectural form that is both legible and of surprising elegance. The tower consists almost entirely of a stack of slender wooden beams that together form one constructive unit. The silver-grey colour of the ageing wood has a sober look and fits well within the natural grey tones of the dune landscape, while still being attractive through the expressive shape.

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