architect christophe benichou has envisioned a precariously-balanced observatory set on the edge of a rocky cliff, which suspends viewers above france’s montpellier mountains. ‘tip-box’ — a project intended to be located at the summit of the pic saint-loup range — would serve as place of rest and meditation for hikers. the structure seeks to simulate a sensation of vertigo, ‘to domesticate it and then accentuate it, to offer the thrill in complete safety,’ benichou describes. the cube, carefully set on the very edge of the mountainside, would provide onlookers with 360 degree, panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

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the stepped structure and inclined envelope of benichou’s ‘tip-box’ pavilion frames visitors’ gaze across the horizon, with views from the mediterranean to the cévennes mountain range. viewers’ sightlines are projected vertically downwards towards the foot of the cliff, offering ‘a rather frightening precipice after an ascent in the forest on relatively mild slopes,’ benichou describes. opaque east and west façades provide an encapsulating effect, while the envelope of the project is perforated on the roof and base. therefore, natural illumination and ventilation passes through the exterior while also offering welcome shade. for weary adventures seeking shelter by night, the lower part of ‘tip-box would be able to host overnight trekkers at the summit of the rock.

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