We may not have wings, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy eagle-eye views of spectacular rainforests, canyons, mountain ranges and cityscapes from dizzying heights. Cantilevered viewing platforms with glass floors give us the opportunity to experience the sensation of hovering in mid-air, while sky-high urban parks offer outdoor recreation hundreds of feet above the hustle and bustle of the city.
Grand Canyon Skywalk, Arizona
(images via: Viator.com)
While many nature lovers have mixed feelings about man-made structures in places like the Grand Canyon, most will agree that the Grand Canyon Skywalk provides an experience unlike any other. Standing on two inches of glass, tourists get dizzying views at a height of 3,600 feet above the canyon floor. The horseshoe-shaped walkway extends 66 feet beyond the edge of the canyon and is capable of holding 70 tons.
Pier 57 Shipping Container Park, New York
(images via: Treehugger)
An unattractive hunk of concrete on New York’s Hudson River will soon be transformed into an eco-friendly rooftop park and open-air market made out of recycled shipping containers. The market and park will be perched atop a community of art studios, providing green recreational space and revitalizing an unused urban eyesore.
Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk, Australia
(images via: flickr, tourismshellharbour )
While large steel structures in the middle of the rainforest may not seem like the most earth-conscious idea ever, they actually help minimize the impact that tourism can have on the local ecosystem. The Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk in Australia was designed to have the smallest impact possible, made up of two 24-meter-long springboard cantilevers that sway gently above the canopy, offering spectacular views of the rainforest.
Aurland Lookout, Norway
(images via: Todd Saunders)
In photographs, the Aurland Lookout in Norway looks like a one-way ticket to the emergency room – or the morgue – with its sudden drop-off into the trees below. But, visitors needn’t be extreme adrenaline junkies to enjoy the breathtaking views that the lookout provides. There’s a sheet of plate glass at the end of the platform that prevents anyone from falling off the edge.
Top of Tyrol, Austria
(images via: Aste Architecture)
At the pinnacle of Mount Isidor in Tyrol, Austria there is a sleek, modern viewing platform made of wood and steel that juts 27 feet over a ridge. Designed by Aste Architecture, the platform is made to be as unobtrusive as possible in the landscape. It all but disappears into the snow in the winter.
Highline Elevated Urban Park, New York
(images via: Inhabitat)
This summer, Manhattan got a new park – and it’s got some of the best views in the city. Built atop the remains of an old rail system, Highline Park is a little piece of green paradise in the middle of a concrete jungle. The city was originally planning to tear down the structure before a group formed to protect and renovate it, leading to a design competition that gave it new life.
Landscape Promontory, Switzerland
(images via: etiennedeffinis, architonic)
The suspended exhibition platform created by architect Paolo Bürgi is not quite finished yet, but it’s already drawing admiration from around the world. Designed as part of the Cardada Project, which aims to revitalize the Cardada mountain in the Tessin region of Switzerland, the steel and titanium platform is marked with symbols, with explanations on the parapet, that create links with local history and literature.
Five Fingers Viewing Platform, Austria
(images via: Goldenrochs.at)
High above the Salzkammergut area in the Austrian Alps, thrillseekers can step out onto a platform to get views of five different angles of the mountains. Each jetty of the ‘Five Fingers’ platform has its own special feature. The first is outfitted with a picture frame for the perfect shot, the second has a glass floor, the third has a trampoline, the fourth has a round hole in the floor to look through and the fifth sports a telescope. The third finger is only open for special events, lest tourists bounce themselves right over the railings.
Telok Blangah Hill Park, Singapore
(images via: ArchDaily)
Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge, the Henderson Waves, undulates over the landscape like a snake, providing a connection between Telok Blangah Hill Park’s two highest points, Mount Faber and Telok Bangah Hill. The park also offers elevated walkways 120 feet above the forest floor that allow visitors to experience the park at treetop level.
Il Binocolo, Italy
(images via: karenwithak)
This steel platform, named ‘Il Binocolo’, allows visitors to the Trauttsmandorff Castle in northern Italy a view of the castle itself and its surrounding gardens. Designed by architect Matteo Thun, the platform is shaped like an opera glass and has a transparent floor.
House on the Rock Infinity Room, Wisconsin
The House on the Rock is one of America’s weirdest tourist attractions, filled with hundreds of bizarre collections and displays from creepy dolls to the world’s largest carousel. But the hidden gem inside this hidden gem is the Infinity Room, a 300-foot-long viewing platform with over 3,000 windows and a window in the floor.
Sky-Terra Towers Concept
(images via: Inhabitat)
When the ground is too shady and polluted to enjoy for outdoor recreation, take to the skies. That’s the idea behind the Sky-Terra Towers concept, created by Bay Area designer Joanna Borek-Clement. They’re a series of interconnected towers inspired by the shape of neuron cells which would provide sky-high green space replete with parks, pools, jogging paths, amphitheaters and playing fields.