Simone von Grotthuss

Simone von Grotthuss

Observatory and Hostelry. RWTH Aachen (Germany)

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Third place EAP 2021

EAP 2021 Simone von Grotthuss

Observatory and Hostelry – a Startheatre in Eifel National Park

The darkness of night turned into a rare phenomenon. Growing cities and the careless use of light made the dark spots on earth become smaller or even disappear completely.

Although the view to the starry sky always was a lasting experience for everyone. Now just like thousands of years ago. Observatories keep the awareness for this cultural heritage alive. Here, everyone is encouraged to question everyday perception and emerge into a world of images and reflections.

Therefore the location needs to be carefully chosen. Astronomical observatories always declined from civilization, air pollution and electric light. Finally the youngest of them can be found on the highest mountains before they disappeared completely to the orbit itself. At least astronomical observation appeared to be an abstract broadcast.

This architectural design conteracts this movement and focusses returning to the intense experience of immediate perception.

Eifel National Park as a so called „Dark Sky Place“ is the ideal location for an observatory. This declaration distinguishes the quality of starry nights and the nocturnal environment as especially worth to protect. Special about the Eifel is the high level of darkness while it is still an area reachable for visitors. This proximity to civilisation reasons the through-like shape of this observatory. Highly elevated and at the same time sheltered from scattered light at the horizon, it lies northerly of, and surrounded by, the National Park.

It consists of three circles. The outer one is designed for the individual and undisturbed observation. The middle circle offers observation niches and well-prepared foundations for astronomic instruments. The centric circle forms an auditorium for guided star walks at night-time. Tactile reliefs to the visitor’s feet lead through the system.
At daytime, the elements turn to astronomic instruments.

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