North Pennines Observatory @ ACA

xsite architecture, Northumberland, 2017

 

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  • SITE PLAN    
  • UPPER LEVEL PLAN    
  • LOWER LEVEL PLAN    
  • PROPOSED SECTIONS    
  • EXISTING ELEVS    
  • PROPOSED ELEVS    
  • COMPETITION ENTRY    
  • OBS DETAILS    
  • WARM ROOM DETAILS    
  • STAIR DETAILS    
  • STORE DETAILS    

North Pennines Observatory designed by Newcastle University students Noor Jan-Mohamed, Rebecca Wise, and Katie Fisher, in collaboration with XSite Architecture, following a competition process.

Behind the Old Schoolhouse, nestled into the bank of the remote landscape, the Observatory welcomes the ‘darkscape’ of the North Pennines. In a desire to harmonise with its environment, the project takes inspiration from the terrain and surrounding evergreen forests, notably their height and rhythm of their verticality. The form of the building gently slopes downwards reflecting the angle of the hillside, whilst the mass seeks to compliment the scale of the School House.

Three main spaces were developed for a versatile collection of architectures, where discussions, learning and discoveries are encouraged:

The Observatory houses a telescope mounted on a separate pedestal foundation to avoid vibrations, while the sliding roof mechanism allows for optimal views to the dark skies. The humble interior of the Observatory is entirely enclosed by a thin, zinc clad envelope, allowing the telescope to easily adjust to external temperatures without the pollution of nearby lighting.

The Warm Room, in contrast, is well insulated and clad in locally-sourced larch, providing sanctuary from the cold with minimal impact to the Observatory and local environment. A video link from the Observatory enables multiple gazers to view the night sky from the comfort of the Warm Room, ensuring the experience is accessible to all.

Pushing the Observatory backwards and pulling the Warm Room forward forms two courtyards; the first provides an accessible entry point, while the second allows for the creation of an external stargazing area sheltered by the sliding roof when the Observatory is in use. Locating the Equipment Store and WC on the same level as the schoolhouse extends the decking area, providing ample room for amateur stargazers to set up their telescopes.

Data

  • Begun: Nov 2015
  • Completed: Oct 2017
  • Floor area: 25m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £40,000
  • Funding: Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Tender date: Aug 2015
  • Address: North Pennines Observatory @ ACA , The Old School House, Allenheads, Northumberland, NE47 9HR, United Kingdom

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