Kielder Observatory is stationed in Kielder Forest, in what could be the darkest, least light-polluted location in all of England. Designed by Charles Barclay Architects, here the observatory can view the sky in an unadulterated view, free of the distraction of a functioning city. The structure was created with the sole intent of providing an unparalleled sky viewing expierence, boasting two powers of telescopes as well as an observation deck which allows for casual viewing and private telescopes. Two freely rotating turrets house the telescopes and provide an uninturrupted view of the sky at inclinations as low as 5 degrees. The equiptment is powered by a 2.5-kW wind turbine, which is also insured by photovoltaic panels. The project manager for the observatory was Simon Pepper, while the structural engineering was headed by Michael Hadi Associates.
The structure of the Kielder Observatory is soley dedicated to the telescopes views and operations. A basic rectangular shape and muted wooden exterior masks the technology at work inside, where the central turrent controlling the more powerful telescope is controlled by computer in the adjoining space. The second telescope can be operated manually via a circular ramp which moves up the entirety of the tower. These towers are seperated from the rest of the structure via steel piers, which allow for the towers to rotate on top of the rest of the building freely. Hinged doors swing open on top of the towers when viewing through the telescope. The entire structure is diagonally braced by a number of steel tie rods between the piers supporting the building.
Almost the entire building is constructed out of various woods. The wall’s exteriors are made up of horizontal larch cladding on the lower portions, with vertical battens on the upper sections. Within this outermost layer is a small 25mm ventilated cavity, which acts as another layer of insulation as well as a moisture deterrent. Due to the proximity to a local river, the structure will be constantly bombarded by water by the sprays and inherent humidity of a riverside location. And since the exterior is in no way waterproofed or sealed, this cavity allows for any moisture that builds up to simply fall through the bottom of the wall, encouraged by the vapor barrier adjacent to the cavity. Waterproof plywood and 125 mm of thermal insulation make up the rest of the wall, which is fitted with a veneered plywood interior.
The roof continues the primary use of wood for construction, with the topmost layer 20 mm of asphalt roofing. The second layer of 90 mm of polyurethane rigid-foam thermal insulation is followed by a vapor barrier on top of waterproof plywood. The roof is then supported by 50/250 mm softwood joists, while the interior is once again finished with 12 mm veneered plywood. The roof also features a skylight of double glazed, toughed glass which allows for easy viewing of the sky’s conditions.
All pictures and relative information was found in Detail Magazine, 2008, Issue # 12.