BIG’s Marsk Tower opens at Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark

Danish Twist

BIG’s Marsk Tower opens at Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark

The Copenhagen-founded Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has shared a first look at its recently opened Marsk Tower, an observation helix-slash-touristic landmark that soars 80 feet above the pancake-flat marshland landscape of Wadden Sea National Park in South Jutland, Denmark.

VisitDenmark, the Nordic nation’s official tourism arm, first shared plans for the single corkscrewing staircase (146 steps up and 131 steps down) topped by a dizzying lookout perch with AN back in November 2020. (There’s also an elevator accessible via a ground-level ramp so that visitors of all abilities can enjoy the views from up top.) Formally known as Marsktårn, or Marsh Tower, the spiraling structure anchors a larger campsite area near the rural town of Skærbæk, which features a cafr and touristic center located at the base of the vertiginous new attraction. The roughly 30-acre Marsk Camp facility also includes an icehouse, mini-golf course, glamping tents, and room for over 100 motorhomes.

people climb a twisting staircase tower
A helix with a view: Visitors climb the BIG-designed Marsk Tower. (Rasmus Hjortshoj & BIG)

According to a BIG press announcement, the firm designed the 300-ton tower as part of a partnership with Marsk Camp Group to “create an experiential destination that presents the unique landscape from a new perspective to tourists all over the world.”

“Because of the Earth curvature, visitors will gradually expand their view of the horizon while walking to the top of the tower. On the foot of the tower, you will be able to see 4 km [roughly 2.5 miles] into the distance, but from the top of the tower the view is expanded to an 18 km [11 miles] view into the horizon,” elaborated Jakob Lange, architect and partner at BIG. “The stairs widen at the top of the tower, creating a 110 meter-squared lookout spot with views stretching to city of Esbjerg, the Islands Rømø and Sylt, and beyond the Wadden Sea to the North Sea.”

detail view of a spiraling steel scaircase
It’s a 146-step journey (or quick elevator ride) to the top. (Rasmus Hjortshoj & BIG)

“Marsk tower is a testament to our two decades-long friendship and collaboration with the blacksmiths of [Danish stair and balcony company] Schacks Trapper,” added BIG founder and creative director, Bjarke Ingels. “The double helix provides two stairs and an elevator with a single stack of rotating steel steps, allowing visitors to ascend and descend in a single spiraling loop from the sand to the sky—connecting the marsh land to the Wadden Sea.”

Marsk Tower isn’t BIG’s only project within the UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed Wadden Sea National Park, which is Denmark’s largest national park and part of a chain of national parks stretching across Germany and the Netherlands. Not too far away from Marsk Camp to the north on the island of Fanø, the northernmost of the Wadden Sea Islands, BIG is also working on a dune-enveloped natural history center dubbed the Lycium.

view of a flat rural landscape with farmland and an observation tower
Marsk Camp is located on Denmark’s South Jutland coast near the island of Rømø. (Rasmus Hjortshoj & BIG)

While Marsk Tower is more of a traditional observation tower that’s situated in a wildly different locale and rises nearly half the height, it’s hard not to be reminded of Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, another step-heavy, tourist-luring sculptural edifice offering sweeping views. That attraction has been closed indefinitely after a fourth person committed suicide by leaping from one its observation platforms late last month.