To The Stars And Beyond

Nov 03, 2017


This private astronomical observatory is located on a remote mountain summit in central New Hampshire. The site is characterized by granite outcroppings and is situated at the centre of a three-mile radius dark landscape with very little light pollution to obstruct astronomical viewing.

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Gemma Observatory by Anmahian Winton Architects rejects a traditional dome in favour of a synthesized architectural form that maximizes usable space and responds to the stark geographic context. Its continuously faceted shape reflects the surrounding landform. Its terraced concrete platforms transition between the summit’s bedrock and the building foundation, knitting together natural and man-made landscapes.

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Reflecting Gemma’s orientation to both geological and celestial landmarks, an unconventional pattern of lock-seamed zinc cladding mediates between the irregular site topography and the building’s geometry. As a counterpoint to the exterior and its context, the interior is lined with fir plywood, creating a haven of refuge and warmth from the harsh surroundings. The first floor is comprised of a research office, sleeping bunk, and warming room, and is super-insulated to prevent interior and exterior temperature differentials from creating heat eddies that would impede astronomical viewing. A helical stair leads onto the exterior observation deck.

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Continuing, the stair arrives at the observatory’s primary viewing platform inside the faceted turret. A single person can rotate this turret by hand with an assembly typically used in high-precision manufacturing facilities, and a hand-cranked sliding hatch opens the telescope to the sky.

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About Anmahian Winton Architects

AW Architects is a highly collaborative, multi-disciplinary practice committed to design and construction innovation. For more than twenty years, the firm has been producing acclaimed, innovative projects across a broad spectrum of building types, including complex commissions for private and public institutions, both nationally and overseas. 

All image credits- Anmahian Winton Architects + Client

 

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