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  COME VEDERE L'ARCHITETTURA CONTEMPORANEA HOW TO SEE CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE
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BUILDING
 
 
Gemma Observatory
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DESIGNER
 
 
AW Anmahian Winton Architects
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CONTEXT
 
Location
Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya AurenThis private astronomical observatory is located on a remote mountain summit in central New Hampshire. The site is characterized by granite outcroppings and is situated at the center of a three-mile radius “dark” landscape with very little light pollution to obstruct astronomical viewing.
Relationship with the location
Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya Auren
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DESCRIPTION
 
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Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya AurenGemma’s design rejects a traditional dome in favor of a synthesized architectural form that maximizes usable 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 bedrock and the building foundation, knitting together natural and man-made landscapes. An unconventional pattern of lock-seamed zinc cladding mediates between the irregular site topography and the building’s geometry, reflecting Gemma’s orientation to both geological and celestial landmarks. Its dimension, color, and patina evoke a material relationship to the gray granite outcroppings, while its heat transfer capability facilitates sky observation by minimizing temperature differential distortion.

Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya AurenAs 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. A helical stair leads from the cantilevered entry canopy to a fissure in the cladding that opens onto the exterior observation deck. Continuing, the stair arrives at the observatory’s primary viewing platform inside the faceted turret, its interior characterized by high ceilings, a larger telescope, and a camera array. 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.
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Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya Auren
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LOCATION
 
Continent
North America
Nation
United States
State
New Hampshire
County
Merrimack
Town
Danbury
Place
Rosemary's Woods
Address
Hobbs Hill Road
 
 
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MAP
 
 
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TYPOLOGY
 
ARCHITECTURE
Research buildings and centers
Astronomical observatories
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Project
2015    
Realisation
2015 - 2017
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AWARDS
 
2017
AZ Award
Architecture under 1,000m2
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PHOTO+
 
 
Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya Auren
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STRUCTURES
 
 
RSE, Associates, Inc.
Sofya Auren P.E.
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STAFF
 
Project
AW Anmahian Winton Architects
Project architect
Mazen Sakr
Design team
Anika Gramsey, Travis Williams
Engineering
Gillespie Corp. [Technical Motion Engineers]

THK [Rotating Rail Mechanism]
Photovoltaic plants
SunBug Solar
General contractor
Patriots Builders

Scott Estabrooks
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CREDITS
 
 
Photos © Anmahian Winton Architects + Client
Drawings © Anmahian Winton Architects
Text edited by Anmahian Winton Architects
Courtesy of Anmahian Winton Architects | v2com

Gemma Observatory, AW Anmahian Winton Architects, Alex Anmahian, Nick Winton, New Hampshire, RSE Sofya Auren



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