Charles Barclay Architects won an international competition to build an astronomical observatory at Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland. Located in the wild landscape close to the border with Scotland, the area is perfect for siting an observatory as it has the lowest level of light pollution in England. The design brief called for an inexpensive building suitable to house two telescopes and a warm room, primarily intended for amateurs and outreach work but also suitable for scientific research. The telescopes have concrete-filled tubular galvanized steel columns as their mounts, entirely separate from the timber structure to ensure they are vibration-free.
The traditional domed form of the telescope enclosures was rejected to take advantage of the self-transforming possibilities of rotating architecture.
The observatory accommodation was arranged sequentially as a series of event spaces, creating a 'promenade architecturale' and the possibility of having a number of separate groups on the observatory at the same time.