Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire Architecture, NH rural building design, Northeast United States property

Gemma Observatory in Southern New Hampshire

Rural Northeast American Building design by Anmahian Winton Architects

Jul 30 + Apr 9, 2017

Gemma Observatory Building in New Hampshire, USA

Design: Anmahian Winton Architects

Added images:

Gemma Observatory

Photos Courtesy of Anmahian Winton Architects and Client

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire Building

Gemma Observatory

Gemma Observatory

Gemma Observatory Gemma Observatory

Located in the mountains of central New Hampshire, this Observatory is positioned at the end of a steep, half-mile gravel drive. Its exposed site is characterized by granite outcroppings and is situated at the center of a three-mile radius “dark” landscape with very little light pollution, ideal for sky observation. Gemma operates completely off the grid, powered by a photovoltaic panel assembly.

Gemma Observatory Gemma Observatory

The Observatory’s design rejects a traditional dome in favor of a synthesized architectural form that provides optimal usable interior space and responds to the stark geographic context. Its continuously faceted shape reflects the surrounding landform, and terraced concrete platforms transition between the summit’s granite bedrock and the building foundation, knitting together the natural and man-made landscapes.

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire

An unconventional pattern of lock-seamed zinc cladding mediates between the irregular site topography and the building’s geometry, reflecting the building’s orientation to both geological and celestial landmarks. Its dimension, color, and patina evoke a material relationship to the gray granite outcroppings that characterize the summit, while its heat transfer capability facilitates sky observation by minimizing temperature differential distortion.

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire

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/exterior temperature differentials from creating heat eddies that would impede astronomical viewing.

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire

A helical, plywood-and-steel stair leads from the cantilevered entry canopy to a fissure in the cladding that opens to the exterior observation deck and telescope. Continuing, the stair arrives at Gemma’s primary viewing space in the turret, a 16’ diameter viewing platform, characterized by high ceilings, a larger telescope, and a camera array.

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire

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. A rift in the zinc cladding creates a corner window, framing Polaris when the turret is locked into the southern cardinal position.

Gemma Observatory Southern New Hampshire

Gemma Observatory New Hampshire – Building Information

GEMMA OBSERVATORY, Southern New Hampshire | 2016
Architects: Anmahian Winton Architects
Client: Withheld
General Contractor: Patriot Painters & Builders

Photographs: Courtesy of the Architects and Client

Location: New Hampshire, USA

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