The Tadashi Kawamata Observatory: An Artwork Blending with Nature

Tucked away in the heart of the reed beds, the Tadashi Kawamata Observatory is a unique creation that blends contemporary art with an immersion into nature. Inaugurated in 2007 as part of the Estuaire Nantes <> Saint-Nazaire event, this work by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata stands out for its ingenious design and unusual location.

A Path Suspended in Nature

Access to the Observatory is via a wooden walkway, rising 40 cm above the ground for nearly 800 meters, offering total immersion in the Lavau-sur-Loire marshes. This rail-less construction provides a unique experience of walking above the wetlands, inviting contemplation and daydreaming.

A 360° View of the Loire Estuary

From the top of the Observatory, visitors can enjoy a breathtaking 360° panorama, encompassing the marshes, the Loire, the smokestacks of the Cordemais power station, the Saint-Nazaire bridge, and the picturesque village of Lavau-sur-Loire. This wooden tower, situated in the middle of flood meadows, pays tribute to the interaction between man and nature.

A Collaborative and Educational Project

Kawamata’s work is the result of a collaborative project involving students and professionals from various fields, including architecture, fine arts, and design schools. The construction began in 2007 with the building of the walkway and tower, and concluded in 2009 with the completion of the wooden path.

An Ode to the Environment and History

The project aims to raise awareness of the natural environment of Lavau-sur-Loire, especially its marshes transformed following the dredging of the Loire channel. Tadashi Kawamata, known for his works that create a link between people and places, envisioned this “observatory” as a lookout providing an extensive view and proximity to the Loire.

Visiting Tips

Access to the Observatory is about an hour’s walk round trip. It is recommended to start from the parking lot of the Lavau-sur-Loire town hall and follow the path of small stones. Visitors should be mindful of the tides, especially those with a coefficient above 90 accompanied by a strong west wind, which can cover the walkway with a few centimeters of water. Additionally, the site’s flora and fauna, some species of which are protected, must be respected without picking or destruction.

The Tadashi Kawamata Observatory is not just an impressive viewpoint, but also an invitation to explore and reflect on the relationship between art, humanity, and nature.