07/22/2012 11:00 am ET Updated Sep 25, 2012

Flashback: Kielder Belvedere / Softroom

© Keith Paisley

Architects: Softroom

Location: , PA, USA

Project Year: 1999

Photographs: Keith Paisley

Client: The Kielder Partnership

Outside, one is exposed to the elements, unsheltered, but attuned to the landscape.  To enter the Kielder Belvedere and seek shelter is to be protected from the weather and be given precisely controlled, but seemingly unhindered visual experience of the world beyond.

© Keith Paisley

Warm and dry, seated in a gently-lit drum, one is shielded from discomfort, free to contemplate the environment beyond. On approach from the park, two etched-steel mirror walls reflect the forest and flank a doorway set beneath a richly-coloured glass canopy. The triangular shelter is entered via its apex, through an apparently very thick wall.  The curve of the door suggests what lies beyond; a golden circular chamber, lit by soft daylight filtering through a coloured skylight.

© Keith Paisley

In the centre of the enclosure, a bench faces a single slot window in the far wall that offers a panoramic view of Kielder water. Owing to the curvature of the glazing and the sharply splayed window reveals, it is hard here to determine the thickness of the wall; the view in this way becoming an integral part of the surface of the drum. The 120 – degree band of vision contains the far horizon, the expanse of the reservoir and shoreline. The constantly changing weather sweeps by and there is the anticipation, observation and ultimate arrival of the ferry as it enters the frame.


By contrast to the flat flank walls, the third face of the exterior has a dramatic convex mirror-polished stainless steel surface. The vista is drawn in as if by gravity towards the curved window and the viewer.