News feeds  RSS

Kielder Observatory Competition – result announced


12 December 2005

Press release contact:

RIBA Competitions Office
T: +44 (0)113 234 1335
E: riba.competitions@riba.org

Charles Barclay Architects have been named the winners of the Kielder Partnership and RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Kielder Observatory competition. The London-based architects saw off nearly 230 worldwide entries.
The winning design has been likened to the 'deck of a ship sailing above the Kielder landscape'. It's planned that eager astronomers will be able to visit the observatory at its rugged hilltop location on Black Fell in rural Northumberland (North East England) in late 2006. Kielder has been recognised as one of the best places to view the stars in the United Kingdom due to its pitch-black and pollution-free skies. 

The development of Kielder 'Observatory' is being funded by the Northumberland Strategic Partnership and the Northern Rock Foundation with support from the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) and Arts Council England. Once completed, the unique facility will be used by specialist and amateur astronomers, scientific researchers and as a learning resource for education workshops – it's anticipated the construction costs of this project will be £125K.
Sarah Wigglesworth, RIBA Architectural Advisor to the Observatory project said: "The winning scheme is a simple, clear and logical response to the brief and effortlessly does everything required of it. The designers showed subtle insight into what was needed to make this an exciting yet robust setting for viewing the stars. This is a laconic proposal that positions itself in contrast to the landscape while also being at one with it. The addition of this interesting new Observatory at Kielder adds to the remarkable (and growing) collection of inspired commissions undertaken by the Kielder Partnership."
Peter Sharpe, Kielder Partnership's Art & Architecture Curator, said:
"We faced a hard task selecting a winner from the many innovative schemes put forward. After much deliberation, we unanimously chose a winner whose enthusiasm was evident from the start and whose proposal represents the strongest combination of innovative design and essential practicality that will be an absolute necessity for those who will use the observatory once it is complete.
"We are all looking forward to working with Charles Barclay Architects in the months ahead."
The Kielder landscape already hosts: James Turrell's "Skyspace", Kielder Belvedere (Softroom) and the Minotaur maze (Nick Coombe & Shona Kitchen).
Chairman of the Kielder Partnership, John Cuthbert, Managing Director of Northumbrian Water, said: "The announcement of a winner for the Kielder Observatory competition is a key milestone for the Kielder Partnership's art and architecture programme, illustrating how well creative projects can be developed to provide facilities that directly support existing users of the Kielder environment."
Kielder Water and Forest Park is one of the most ambitious travel and tourism destinations in Europe. With its forests stretching to the horizon and the jewel of Kielder Water at its centre, almost half a million annual visitors come to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and holiday activities. The award winning Kielder Partnership has achieved major global recognition for commissioning daring pieces of artwork that both challenge and complement its stunning environment.
"We are exhilarated to have won the competition for the observatory at Kielder and acknowledge the input of our co-collaborators, particularly the astronomer in residence at Marlborough College, whose name is also Charles Barclay! It is an honour to be entrusted with the latest of a series of interesting commissions by the Kielder Partnership and we relish the challenge of designing an architectural piece that is resonant in its wild setting yet fulfils a technically demanding brief," said Charles Barclay of Charles Barclay Architects.
Charles Barclay Architects will work closely with the Kielder Partnership team to devise a rigorous development and testing programme to ensure the project's deserved success. Once completed, this rigorous development and testing programme will form the basis of a planning application to progress the project on the Black Fell site.

Notes to editors

1) For further information please contact Garry Smith of Strictly Press on +44 (0) 191 2892809 or news@strictlypress.co.uk, or the Kielder Partnership on (01434) 220643 or visit www.kielder.org
2). The Kielder Partnership is funded by: Tynedale Council; Forestry Commission England; Northumbrian Water Ltd; Northumberland County Council and Northumberland National Park Authority with support from Arts Council England, North East.
3). The Kielder Partnership members are: Tynedale Council; Forestry Commission England; Northumbrian Water Ltd; Northumberland County Council; Northumberland National Park Authority; Kielder Ltd; Calvert Trust; Wild Redesdale; Sustrans; and North Tyne & Redesdale Committee of Parish Councils.
4). To find out more about the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) please visit www.ribacompetitions.com
4). Charles Barclay Architects - practice description: Charles Barclay Architects is a small, design-led practice set up in 1996, specializing in one-off houses. They have converted a flying trapeze workshop in to their studio in Brixton and are now striking out in to the public realm with two schools projects in Islington. They regularly enter competitions and have been runners up with schemes for innovative housing in Southwark, Edinburgh and Melun-Senart, outside Paris. They have a particular interest in using timber as a building material, having completed a pre-fabricated timber farmhouse for a Cornish dairy farmer and a suspended timber 'box' as an extension to a Brixton house, for which they were short-listed for a Wood Award last year.
For their competition-winning entry for the Kielder Observatory, they teamed up with another Charles Barclay RA, astronomer in charge of the Blackett Observatory at Marlborough College. By strange coincidence, the ten-inch refracting telescope there was commissioned by Joseph Gurney Barclay in 1860, great, great grandfather to architect Charles Barclay.
For further details about Charles Barclay Architects please visit their website - www.cbarchitects.co.uk
5). The five short listed schemes beaten by Charles Barclay Architects, were developed by: Peter Richardson, ZM Architecture – Glasgow, considered by the panel to be a very close second; Rosanna Guy Greaves, Ryoko Kawaguchi, Katy Marks – Cambridge; Gokce Kinayoglu, Ipek Tureli, Gokhani Kinayoglu – California (USA); Andrew Groarke, Kevin Carmody, Chris Hardie – London; and John Lonsdale – Amsterdam.
6). Observatory project details (specifications):
Site Description: The chosen site, Black Fell, is a recently clear felled area approximately 1.5 miles west of Kielder Village.
Telescope specifications:
Telescope type: Pulsar (optical) SKYWALKER 20" split ring equatorial telescope.
Height: 2.2m Base diameter: 1m
Weight: 50kg.
Telescope type: Meade 14" GPS UHTC LX200 telescope.
Height: 2.5m Base diameter: 1m.
Weight: 25kgs.
Telescope housings: Each telescope housing will have aperture and obstacle free horizons to enable the telescope to point at any part of the night sky.
The housings will avoid the use of materials with a high thermal mass that might tend to release heat into the air surrounding the telescopes when they are operating in the evening and at night. Telescope housings will adjust quickly to external ambient temperatures to prevent condensation forming when the telescopes are being prepared for use.
Each housing will offer some shelter from wind and weather when in use and will also be secure and weatherproof when not in use.
A warm room: There will be a weatherproof, remote astronomy observation area - approximately 16sqm in size - allowing people to work in relative comfort while using the Meade telescope remotely


Top of page