In recent years, several forest fires have aroused great concern among Chinese people. In addition to deeply triggering people’s concern about forest fire safety, those accidents also give some warnings of fire prevention infrastructure and forest fire risk monitoring and early warning system in some forest scenic areas.

▼视频,video ©时差影像timeraw


Forest fire lookout facilities


Niushou Mountain in Nanjing is the birthplace of “Niutou Dhyana”. The Niushou Mountain cultural tourism area where it is located is a famous Buddhist cultural scenic spot. The Buddha’s Top Palace, the landmark building on the top of the mountain, is dedicated to Sakyamuni’s parietal relics. This hilly landform, located between the Outer Qinhuai River and the Yangtze River, consists of Niushou Mountain, Zutang Mountain, Tianmu Mountain, Yinlong Mountain and many other mountains, stretching and rolling, with a total area of 14,000 mu.

▼从瞭望台俯瞰整个景区,Overlooking the whole area from the lookout ©时差影像timeraw

▼瞭望塔拥有良好的视野,The look out has a good view ©时差影像timeraw


It is worth mentioning that the forest coverage rate of Niushou Mountain is 82%, covering an area of 1393 hectares, but it has been plagued by mountain fires for many years. In 2018, the administrative department decided to improve the forest fire fighting facilities, including the construction of the forest fire brigade station and forest fire prevention command center in Yinlong Mountain, the fire barrier around the mountain, and the construction of a fire lookout facility on the mountain which was once attacked by mountain fire. These are the necessary infrastructure of the forest farm.

▼瞭望台与消防道,Lookout and fire road ©时差影像timeraw

▼瞭望台利用丘陵的地势,The lookout takes advantage of the hilly terrain ©时差影像timeraw


Build the platform instead of a tower


The fire-fighting lookout facilities on the top of the mountain naturally remind people of towers. When ATA design team received the design invitation, the owner was confused by a lot of tower design drafts. However, through the analysis of the existing environment, we believe that Niushou mountain has formed a landmark landscape of “double palaces and double towers”, so adding tower like objects will only imitate.

▼水平与坡向的关系在建筑上的体现,The relationship between level and slope is reflected in architecture ©时差影像timeraw

▼山坡上长出的建筑,The building seems growing on the hillsid ©时差影像timeraw


▼分析图,Diagram  ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

On the contrary, the design should break away from the usual inherent thinking mode of “building a tower at the top” and use the unique geographical location of Yinlong Mountain head facing the main peak of Niushou Mountain and enjoying the beautiful scenery of “Niushou atmosphere” to build a complex facility that combines fire water reservoir, lookout and watch, and tourists’ view. Finally, the owner adopted our suggestion that the fire-fighting lookout facility will appear in the form of a mountain top platform, which not only needs to disappear on the top of mountains, but also needs to obtain a good observation view, and at the same time, it will not interfere with internal and external use. These seemingly contradictory requirements undoubtedly pose a great challenge to the design.

▼建筑细节,Architectural details ©时差影像timeraw

▼透过帷幔中的远景,Vision through the veil ©时差影像timeraw


Composite utilization


▼分析图,Diagram  ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

It is found that the mountain top geology is dominated by rock strata and there are few vegetations. Although it is suitable for the site selection of buildings, if you want to obtain a wider observation field of vision without increasing the building height, the more feasible strategy is to move the observation front onto the slope in front of the mountain, and use the vertical layering to take the lower layer as the functional space for fire observation, and the upper layer as the viewing platform for tourists, The plane of upper and lower layers are two eccentric large and small circles, so as to create a larger upper platform with a smaller footprint. The upper platform and the round square on the top of the mountain are connected by trestle. The foundation of the building is two buried barrel shaped reinforced concrete boxes. The inside of the box is used as a high-level fire water reservoir.

▼观景台可俯瞰整个山谷,The observation deck overlooks the entire valley ©时差影像timeraw


Structure construction and energy conservation


▼牛首胜景尽收眼底,With a stunning view of the mountain ©时差影像timeraw

In the building structure, there are two steel pipe rings forming a certain angle which are a small one and a large one respectively. The slender branch shaped steel web between the upper ring and the lower ring is both the vertical component of the structure and the skeleton of the glass curtain wall on the outer surface of the building. The lower ring is supported on the reinforced concrete reservoir by circular steel columns, and the upper ring is supported by vertical and horizontal steel beams to form a shallow pool roof – the mirror pool. Therefore, the building structure presents a shape like that of a flower basket with a small bottom and a large top, it makes a 227m2 platform fall on a 78m2 base. Such a cantilevered and forward inclined spatial pipe truss structure system, which adopts sectional pipe steel intersection welding, is more conducive to construction in such a narrow and local field environment as mountainous areas.

▼楼梯下至瞭望空间,Stair leading to the lookout space ©时差影像timeraw

▼观景台的主要景观方向,The main view direction of the viewing platform ©时差影像timeraw

▼屏风后的休息观景区,The rest viewing area behind the screen ©时差影像timeraw


▼被动式节能分析,Passive energy saving analysis ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

The enlarged roof creates a shadow area for the lower room. The reservoirs at the top and bottom bring good heat storage performance to the building. The updraft on the hillside enters from the ventilation window of the external wall of the building. The interior hot air is discharged through the exhaust window at the top of the room. These measures create a passive energy-saving space with low energy consumption for the building.

▼吊挂在栈桥下的楼梯,Stairs under the trestle ©时差影像timeraw

▼檐口细节,Cornice detail  ©时差影像timeraw


Form, flow and sight


The shape of the building follows the characteristics of the structure. The roof structure of the “Mirror Pool” with the upper structure ring is wrapped in a “floating” disk shape. The disk is covered with simple bamboo and wood grids and extends to the sky to form two layers of undulating drapery. When tourists walk from the entrance platform of the mountain top to the “Mirror Pool” through the steel structure trestle, the drapery is like a screen that attracts people to explore. When they bypass the screen to the mirror pool, the curtains on both sides gradually sank into the mirror pool from high to low, leading the tourists to the opposite view of the main peak of Niushou Mountain. At this moment, in front of the picture like ” Niushou atmosphere “, the tower, peak, palace and sky are reflected into the pool, which is full of symbolism.

▼逐渐展开的空间序列,The unfolding sequence of space ©时差影像timeraw

▼水池与屏风,Pool and screen ©时差影像timeraw

▼镜池中的天地万象,Heaven and earth in the pool of mirrors ©时差影像timeraw

▼建筑屋顶提供的遮蔽空间,The shelter provided by the building’s roof ©时差影像timeraw


The streamline into the fire observation space is reached through a straight running staircase suspended under the trestle. The room is equipped with monitoring room, duty room, pump room, toilet, power distribution room and other fire-fighting lookout functions. Looking down from the monitoring room, the inclined glass facade seems to give people an observation perspective of more than 180 degrees, and the whole valley can be seen. The size of the glass surface gradually narrows with the function of the room. The solid wall below the glass surface uses a bamboo and wood grid, which is combined with the upper disk to make the whole building look like an open container, and seeps light from the mountain top at night.

▼监控室中的视野,The view from the control room ©时差影像timeraw




Green mountains and waters are places of sightseeing and leisure that people yearn for, but they are also often important places for ecological protection. In the aspect of balancing protection and utilization, we can try to use some necessary infrastructure carefully and restrictively, so that people can enjoy the natural beauty while getting some convenience, and the infrastructure can become an open place friendly to public activities.

▼建筑夜景,Night view ©时差影像timeraw

▼建筑的灯管烘托出形体,The light tubes of the building express the form ©时差影像timeraw

▼屋顶平面图,Roof plan ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

▼平面图,Plan ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

▼立面图,Elevation ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

▼剖面图,Section ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

▼檐沟大样,Construction detail  ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

▼屋顶排水沟大样,Construction detail  ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

▼墙身大样,Construction detail  ©东大院 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室

设计方:东南大学建筑设计研究院有限公司 建筑技术与艺术(ATA)工作室
项目设计 & 完成年份:2018&2020

Project Name: The fire lookout at the top of hill
Designer: Architectural and Engineers Co., Ltd of Research Institute of Southeast University,Architectural Technology and Art studio
Company website: http://adri.seu.edu.cn
Contact email: ad@adriseu.com
Project Design & Completion Year: 2018&2020
Main creative and design team:Li Zhu &Yang ZiXuan, Xu Xiao
Structural and electromechanical design: Yi Gou studio,The 2nd Institute
Project Address: Niushou Mountain Cultural Tourism Zone, Jiangning District, Nanjing
Construction area: 78㎡
Client: Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Tourism Group Co., Ltd
Construction party: China Construction Eighth Engineering Division Corp., Ltd
Jiangsu Rijin Construction Engineering Co., Ltd



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