Beyond the Clouds ;
[a travelling astronomy center at the red sand sea forts]
Thames River, England, UK | Collaborators: Anthony Dombrowski, Yang Yu
Top 10 Honorable Mention: Rethinking Competitions, Astronomy Center Redsand, 2015
“Resist whatever seems inevitable” – Lebbeus Woods
In order to build upon this notion of “resistance,” we sought to create an opportunistic proposal for such a difficult melding of site and program. The abandoned Red Sands Forts present a unique task of transportation and mobility (how the hell do you get people here?), and program (what am I going to do/see when I get there?). Prior to the late 19th century, almost all astronomical observatories throughout history were located at modest elevations, often close to cities and educational institutions for the simple reason of convenience. As air pollution from industrialization and light pollution from artificial lighting increased during the Industrial Revolution, astronomers sought observatory sites in remote locations with clear and dark skies. This trend towards “high and dry” locations seems to contradict the location of the Red Sands Forts, which were designed as low, offshore defenses. However, looking optimistically at the challenge at hand, it also boons a remote ‘launching pad’ for astronomical observation. Our proposal seeks to bring people up, beyond the clouds, into a space where the air is thin and the stars are bright. Researchers, students, tourists, and dreamers are able to elevate and observe the infinite abyss. The structure is made of light-gauge steel frames and trusses, able to be lifted 8km into the air by five mega-hot-air-balloons. Organized in the six pods are observation telescope rooms, sleeping and eating quarters, as well as communal restrooms and workstations.