This thatched observatory installed on the roof of a Modernist house in Holland draws attention to the influence of esotericism on the functionalist Nieuwe Bouwen style of the 1920s. The designer, Mexican artist Santiago Borja, named the structure "A Mental Image – Blavatsky Observatory" after Helena Blavatsky, the occultist who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.
The heptagonal structure is located on the rooftop terrace of the Sonneveld House in Rotterdam, which was designed by Dutch firm Brinkman & Van der Vlugt in the 1930s. It references traditional Dutch farmhouses and contrasts the white walls and functionalism of the building. It is meant to become a space for contemplation.
“Borja considers his observatory to be a space for contemplation, an abstract space where visitors can find themselves through spiritual and spatial awareness,” said a statement from the project team led by curator Erich Weiss.
The Sonneveld House was built in 1929 as a family house. In 2001 it was converted into a museum run by the Het Nieuwe Instituut of architecture, design and e-culture. The new installation will remain in place until 22 May 2016.