Nearly eight months ago, a team of four design students won a competition to design an artist’s residence in the south-western countryside of the UK. Now, Charlotte Knight, Mina Gospavic, Ross Galtress, and Lauren Shevills (in collaboration with artist Edward Crumpton) have seen their design, “The Observatories,” realized. Conceived as two rotating structures that house a studio and living quarters, The Observatories will be moved to four different sites over the course of two years. During this time, they’ll take in twelve artists, each for two-month residencies.
The Observatories were submitted as a proposal for a competition held by SPUD (Space Placemaking and Urban Design), who have now collaborated with the designers to construct the project. The residencies were also supported by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Both structures were prefabricated off-site, during an 11-week period. Each is designed to fit on a two-by-ten meter flatbed for ease of transport during their two year tour.
The residency program is divided into a “workshop” and “study.” The workshop is intended to be the place where the artist conducts his work, and will be more open. The study is more private, with a bed and other necessary amenities.
The design team describes their work as “two volumetric beacons which sit lightly within the landscape.” Both buildings sit on stainless steel bases with steel chasers affixed to them. These chasers lock into the steel track of the building’s footing, allowing them to rotate. This mobility is meant to give resident artists a continually fresh frame of view, and promote engagement with the community. The wide openings in the workshop building will augment this, blurring the lines between public and private space.
The steel base connects to a wooden frame. Both buildings are constructed of timber and clad in charred wood, using a Japanese technique known as “Shou Sugi.” This process adds a dark luster to the exterior, and increases the longevity of the cladding.
The Observatories have already been erected on their first site, adjacent to the Winchester Science Center. Over the course of the next two years, they will be seen on the Lymington Salt Marshes, the South Dorset Ridgeway, and the River Tamar.