Client: Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, Gabon
Value: R 12 million
Architect: mta, (Mark Thomas Architects) in collaboration with HF
Completed: 2017 (concept)
The Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux are working towards building national pride around the forest reserve on the outskirts of Libreville with its many large and some massive trees. The proposal is to provide an elevated circular walk through the forest on a natural slatted timber deck with safe handrails and a full range of views and experiences in this epic forest. The walk has two components; a path of discovery in the forest, and a canopy walkway around three major trees.
It begins as a supported walkway, starting on the ground and using the natural fall of the land to gain height up to about 15 metres off the ground. This walkway snakes around the trees and gets wider at key viewpoints, especially at the largest trees. Columns supporting the structure along this length will be stayed in position by cables linked to ground anchors and supported on pre-cast concrete footings.
The supported walkway connects with a suspended walkway at a height of about 20 metres off the ground and then narrows as it continues, linked between trees. The suspended walkways will be carefully fitted to existing trees, via pre-made circular tree rings. These are mounted off the layers of the bark, to allow for future expansion and prevent any blockage of nutrients to the canopy. A simple circular platform around each tree will allow visitors to be part of the canopy and experience the forest fully. Spans between trees are generally limited to about 30 metres, and the height of the walk is determined by the varying ground level, reaching a maximum of about 30m above the ground, from where the views will be spectacular, until it gently lowers the visitors down to the ground again. The length of the suspended walk is approximately 300m.