The new Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire defies architectural tradition by rejecting the established dome form. Instead, this private astronomical observatory looks like it has been carved out of the rock on which it stands. Anmahian Winton Architects designed the building as a faceted volume that creates optimal conditions for sky observation.
The building is located on a remote mountain summit in central New Hampshire. It sits on a granite outcropping, amidst a very “dark” landscape with minimal light pollution, which would potentially obstruct views of the night sky.
Gemma’s faceted form reflects the surrounding terrain, while its zinc cladding makes it look like a single piece of stone. Its interior, on the other hand, provides warmth through the presence of fir plywood. It houses a research office, sleeping bunk, and warming room on the first floor, and an exterior observation deck accessible via a helical stair.
One of the most important aspects of the design is the role its shape and cladding plays in facilitating its function. The outstanding heat transfer capability facilitates sky observation by minimizing temperature differential distortion. Furthermore, cuts in the zinc cladding create strategically placed openings oriented towards both geological and celestial landmarks.