All along the watchtower, Marsk Camp

The way Bjarke Ingels uses space is not for the faint hearted. The quietly spoken Danish born architect fashions gravity defying buildings that create inspirational living and working spaces ranging from power stations, to urban homes and now a viewing watchtower. Indeed, BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group, is now one of the world’s most recognised architecture studios and has designed numerous sculptural buildings.

Now, comes the Marsk Tower, an eye-catching steel watchtower set in the heartland of south Jutland and not so far away from his birthplace.

Visible for miles across the flat, agricultural landscape Ingels’ latest creation was officially opened during the Danish Oyster Festival in late 2021 and is sure to bring visitors to Sønderjylland, with its breathtaking skies and sprawling seascapes.

Standing on the top, the views are total and include the marsh and its very shallow, rolling landscape.

Marsk Tower, says the company, ‘continues BIG’s mission to facilitate a relationship between people and the natural world. Visitors can ascend the 146 steps to an apex of 82 feet “in a single spiralling loop from sand to sky”.

Marsk translates into English as ‘marsh’, and much of the area is reclaimed land, never settled – always moving. This is a landscape full of memory that rewards time and patience to allow its secrets and hidden mystery to reveal themselves.

The Wadden Sea area where the building is located has UNESCO world heritage status as the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mudflats.

Sculptural buildings

In true starchitect style he arrived with his family, and a couple of work colleagues in a helicopter, buzzing down yards from the spiralling tower.

Made entirely from steel by a local fabricator, the tower is “a pure exercise in steel,” says Ingels, as we spoke after he and his team cut a ribbon to open the structure, one of the key events during the oyster festival. Buildings can have hundreds of different materials involved in its construction. Here, there is just one.

Defined by its double-helix, 146 twisting stairs, the viewing platform can be also accessed by a small elevator that runs through the structure’s core. Rising 25 meters, over 80 feet, the sculptural work allows visitors to walk up and descend on a different route without meeting.

Award winning

Although the Marsk watch tower suggests sculpture or an art object in the landscape, the tower invites visitors to explore its spiralling, stepped surface. “Because of the earth curvature, visitors will gradually expand their view of the horizon while walking to the top of the tower,” Bjarke’s partner in BIG Jakob Lange says.

The tower is constructed using Corten steel, chosen for its clean and simple expression and designed to blend in with its surroundings.

Artists including Richard Serra and Donald Judd use Corten for their large-scale constructions as seen in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and in Marfa, Texas, respectively.

Champagne from La Cinq Filles was served at the official opening of the tower and throughout the festival throughout the Danish Oyster festival. Winemaker Yvonne Seier Christensen is a Scandinavian-Nigerian entrepreneur and launched her champagne label named for her five daughters. Cuvée Les Cinq Filles blanc, is a unique Blanc de Blancs where the grapes are grown from the chalky range of the Cote de Blancs and lightly sandy, soils of Verzenay in the French region of Champagne.

For more information about visiting the area click here.

Click here for visiting info about the Marsk Tower.

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.