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The Observatory: The Study and The Workshop


In Brief


Client:
SPUD (Space Placemaking and Urban Design)

Location:
Winchester Science Centre, Lymington Salt Marshes, Mottisfont Abbey Hampshire, 
Buckler’s Hard, New Forest National Park.

Construction value: 
£50,000

Completion:
January 2015

"A look in and a look out for artist and audience" 

The Observatory is a mobile artist studio and workshop designed to encourage interaction between artists and their audience, through a blurring of public and private and inside and outside spaces.

Four architectural assistants from FCBStudios (Charlotte Knight, Ross Galtress, Mina Gospavic and Lauren Shevills) together with Devon-based artist Edward Crumpton won a competition to create a structure that could house multi-disciplinary artists and directly engage with the public. They responded to the brief by creating two rotating wooden structures:

  • The Study: a private and weather-tight artist’s studio.
  • The Workshop: a space for the artist to present their work and encounter the public in.

The team was inspired by the geometric forms of Sol de Wit and a 15th century painting Saint Jerome in His Study in which the viewer looks into the framed space of the artist, with a landscape framed beyond.

With these ideas in mind, The Observatory frames the artist’s space inside and its surrounding landscapes outside. Artist or audience can rotate the buildings, which like telescopes, can face new points of interest –
a nod to the coastal defence ‘look out’ structures often found along the British coastline.

Dark charred timber panels, created using a Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban form the external cladding. This richly textured, outer layer contrasts with the smooth lighter woods used inside the cabins. Edward Crumpton’s knotted and tarred marlin rope screen adds further decorative detail that will weather beautifully over time.

The Observatory will occupy four locations across the South of England over a two year period, giving twelve artists the opportunity of a two month residency each. A wood-burning stove provides heat, the solar panel on the roof is enough to power a light bulb and a laptop, and rainwater harvesting supplies the artist’s sink with water.

Watch short films of the resident artist experiences on location


Testimonial


The Observatory: The Study and The Workshop

"This is a great example of architecture and art engaging the public.The client and architect achieved much with a low budget and many constraints and the result is playful, creative and much more than just a pavilion or folly." RIBA South Awards
Judges comments

The Observatory: The Study and The Workshop

The Revolving Studios


The Observatory: The Study and The Workshop

Stop-motion film of the revolving studios on location at Winchester Science Centre.

Watch video

Selected Awards


"We were impressed by the imaginative response to the brief... and by the provision of much-needed research into the durability of charred timber." Wood Awards 2015


2016: Stephen Lawrence Prize: Shortlist

2016 RIBA South Award

2016 Civic Trust Award: Pro-Tem: Winner

2016 Architects' Journal Small Projects Award: Readers’ Choice: Winner

2015 Wood Awards: Best Small Building: Winner

2015 Civic Trust Award: Regional Finalist

The Observatory: The Study and The Workshop