Anmahian Winton Architects’ Astronomical Gemma Observatory

Located on a remote mountain peak in New Hampshire, this private astronomical observatory named Gemma is situated at the center of a three-mile radius “dark” landscape with very little light pollution for unobstructed astronomical viewing.

The project was designed by Anmahian Winton Architects and rejects a traditional dome in favor of a synthesized architectural form that maximizes usable space and responds to the geographic context. Unlike typically domed observatories, the building has an angular form and is clad in lock-seamed zinc to echo its sharp granite surroundings. Wrapped by this faceted metal skin, the small structure comprises a low portion and an adjoining tower. In contrast, the interior is lined with fir plywood to create a cozy atmosphere from the rocky landscape. The walls are super-insulated to prevent heat exchange between outside and inside. Designed to accommodate only one occupant, the ground floor offers space for a research office, a sleeping bunk, and a warming room. A helical staircase leads up to a deck and continues up to the observation platform inside the turret which is equipped with a large telescope and a camera.

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