The private Gemma Observatory can be found on a remote summit in central New Hampshire, in a 3-mile radius “dark landscape” away from light pollution. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Anmahian Winton Architects designed the astronomical observatory's unconventional form in response to the granite bedrock outcroppings of the site — like its patterned zinc-clad exterior and distinct geometric shape, instead of the typical observatory dome.
Most recently, the project was named a winner in the AIA 2017 Small Project Awards.
The observatory's design is “rooted in the practical requirements of minimizing building movement and dissipating heat gain, and in symbolic relationships to both celestial and environmental landmarks.”
In contrast with its gray exterior, the interior is covered in fir plywood, creating a warmer atmosphere for conducting research or simply resting. A helical staircase from the cantilevered entry canopy leads up to a fissure in the cladding, which opens onto the primary exterior observation deck inside a faceted turret. The turret's corner window frames Polaris when locked in the southern cardinal position.
Photos courtesy of AIA 2017 Small Project Awards.
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