The Observatory

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, , 2014

 

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The Observatory is a rotating artists’ studio exploring remote landscapes along Britain’s south coast.

Inspired by Antonello da Messina’s 'Saint Jerome in his Study', The Observatory’s contemplative spaces and sharply framed views allow the artist, audience and landscape to connect outside conventional exhibitions. A concealed 360 degree rotating mechanism allows users to easily change their view and respond to the weather.

The Observatory is hewn from a palette of hand crafted coastal materials: timber, tar, charcoal and hemp. The project investigates the architectural application of ancient and modern wood technology using sustainably sourced timbers. It was built off-site in three months and transported on a flatbed lorry to site. The Observatory is running community workshops on a sea wall in the New Forest National Park.

The minimal impact approach permeates the design with the light footprint of the structures preventing destruction of habitats. The pre-fabricated structures are designed to be self-sufficient, being entirely off-grid and effectively carbon neutral. A solar panel provides power for lighting and charging electrical items. Rain water is collected for use by the artists, before being discharged into a holding tank to be taken off site for disposal, protecting sensitive habitats. By rotating the structure towards the sun, they benefit from passive solar heating when needed, with additional heat provided by a charcoal burner.

Externally The Observatory is clad in charred FSC certified timber, while internally it is clad in Accoya, both carbon negative materials. A cradle to cradle approach to the structures has been taken. At the end of The Observatory’s life cycle, the steel base frame will be recycled and the timber reused to create new projects.

Data

  • Begun: Nov 2014
  • Completed: Jan 2014
  • Floor area: 7m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £50,000
  • Funding: Funding consisted of £25000 of in-kind funding in the form of materials and professional time and support. The remaining £25,000 was paid for with a Grants for the Arts from Arts Council England
  • Tender date: Sep 2014
  • Procurement: Design and Build on bespoke Contract Order

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