Panorama — Architecture Competition by

UNI announces ‘Panorama’ — Architecture Competition to Challenge to design a forest viewing tower in Monteverde, Costa Rica —

4 min readMay 5, 2022


Fig: 1 — Bird’s eye view offers a renewed viewscape. (Credits: 1997–2021 Viator, Inc.)


How often have we wondered if we can ever get a view like the birds or even drones see? Those aerial shots in movies are views to die for and not everyone gets to have them. The different perspectives from which one view any vastness has a different effect on the viewer. The ocean would look different when looked over from a helicopter than what it would’ve looked like from the beach or horizon or its depth.

Similarly, the calming effects that greenery has on us are different from different angles. The most common view is the human eye view or looking at it from a cliff. But what does it feel like to have a view from within the forest, at a level which acts as the forest horizon or perhaps lets you see equally under and above the crown level? Such places are not very often found in nature as they’re in cities to view the tall buildings and skyline.

How can the perception of nature change if people were allowed to view greenery and wildlife from higher vantage points?

Fig: 2 — Preservation of cloud forests is essential since they are rare ecosystems. (Credits: 2021


A cloud forest is a type of forest that is characterized by its constant or seasonal low-level cloud cover at the canopy level. These types of forests are also referred to as mossy forests and are famous among forest enthusiasts who travel far to witness this phenomenon. These are found usually in saddles of mountains where the retained moisture from clouds is effective.

Monteverde cloud forest reserve is one such place that exhibits a wide range of biodiversity-filled jungle range elfin woodlands that stretch into tall trees filled with orchids and moss down below. While it houses over 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity in its pockets; it is well known for its cloud forest phenomenon and is often journeyed through the suspension bridges and pathways on the ground guided in the area.

Can a window be carved in the dense and foggy green expanse to offer a new way of experiencing the forest, while being mindful of the sensitive surroundings?

Fig: 3 — The Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is a progressive conservation and ecotourism model. (Credits: Creative Commons)


The concept of designing a tower that would allow tourists to look into the forest without actually disrupting the flora and biodiversity may be a possibility. Access to such a facility can help in designing a unique journey for visitors.

Brief: The architecture competition brief calls for a design of a viewing tower located in the Monteverde cloud forest reserve, Costa Rica.

The competition aims to come up with unique design solutions to provide a better way to experience nature, without making it too disruptive like tourism is doing even now. The tower would accommodate not more than 20 people at a time to give the place a better chance at the cleanliness and would enhance the experience by reflecting the essence of the forest. The design must balance its creative aspects while maintaining its sustainability factors in check.

This tower would stand as an example for minimally disruptive eco-tourist experiences of all kinds, not just for forests and viewing purposes. The aesthetic of the tower must not overpower the view of the surrounding forest, but instead, enhance the viewer's experience by providing better vantage points.


  • Landmark — The visual impact of the design must be exemplary with standout features.
  • Harmony — The design must establish harmony or connection with the surrounding, maintaining the integrity of the natural surroundings.
  • Sustainability — The tower should aim at reducing the negative impact of design on the environment, by improving building performance, reducing waste, and ensuring comfort for occupants.
  • Context — The design must respond to the (existing) site conditions without causing harm.


Fig: 4 — Site image

The site is located in the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica. Most of the reserve remains untouched and unaltered preserving high biodiversity. The site has not only attracted many scientists and enthusiasts as well as tourists with roughly 70,000 visitors a year. The locality is seen to have trails and viewpoints winding inside the forest and basic amenities required for the tourists are available along the entrance and fringes. Bus service connects visitors to the nature center and other attractions part of the reserve.

The forest currently has hiking trails as long as is allowed and having a viewing tower such as this would expand the reach of the visitors and also provide a new perspective. The trees around the tower site can be considered to be 25–30 meters.

  • Site area — 1015 sq.m
  • Height restriction — 30 meters
  • Maximum Built-Up Area — 761.25 sq.m
  • Ground coverage — 20%
  • Coordinates — 10°18'00.7"N 84°47'47.1"W

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Panorama | Infrastructure Design Competition on UNI | About

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