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Design and Construction

The design team consists of four young architecture graduates from London, Charlotte Knight, Mina Gospavic, Ross Galtress & Lauren Shevills and Devon based artist Edward Crumpton. As friends from school Edward invited Charlotte to collaborate on the competition. Charlotte in turn introduced Edward to the rest of the team, who all met through Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios where they currently work. The team holds a strong ethos in designing sustainably and taking great care in material selection, which can be likened to the practices manifesto. 


Throughout the design process all contributed their skills, knowledge and ideas with particular attention to the artist in the team, Edward, who gave a genuine insight of the working requirements of a contemporary artist. As Edward’s art is made using traditional British rope weaving techniques, the team have also incorporated his skill in the proposed architectural elements of The Observatory, which refer to the coastal and marine character of the scheme. 


As part of the design teams core principles, it is crucial to collaborate with other types of innovative designers. Entering The Observatory competition was an exciting way to challenge this idea and meet other creative individuals with the aim to build strong relationships with other multi-disciplinary practices. Working with a client such as SPUD, whom has such a strong social agenda was a compelling reason to enter the competition as well as working closely with others who hold the same core values. As young architectural designers the team all work closely together and their strong professional friendship continues to push all aspects of the project.


Aside from maintaining a close working relationship with artist and architectural designer, collaborative design reviews were held within the London studio with senior architects and researchers from FCBS. As well as continued conversations with structural and mechanical engineers and a quantity surveyor to ensure that the design is achievable. Their input was invaluable and helped significantly to shape what we believe to be a fully feasible and highly crafted proposal. 


As part of the material development for The Observatory, the team applied for the FCBS Research and Innovation grant in April 2014. This reflects the team’s desire to use The Observatory as a learning resource, using the collective material to become a written thesis which may interest other professionals and trade journals.


Background interests in crafts and 1:1 fabrications have pushed the teams investigation into the process of Shou Sugi Ban, which they hope to progress alongside increasing the influence of small research driven projects across the UK. 



For SPUD, collaboration doesn’t stop at the initial design stage. It pervades all the work we do and was an essential ingredient in realising The Observatory. The knowledge, skills and experience of all the team members led to a truly stunning outcome that has been achieved on budget and on time.


A project of this nature simply wouldn’t be possible without the genourous support of all involved. James Latham Ltd came on board early in the process to provide all the timber materials as sponsorship, along with their technical knowledge. This resulted in some really interesting choices of materials and allowed the design team to explore them fully.


Choosing the construction team was also a challenge as The Observatory was by no means an off-the-shelf solution and required skill and imagination. We were very fortunate to have S&S Construction (Andover) take the lead on construction and provide much of the work as sponsorship.


A major and essential element of The Observatory is the turning mechanism that allows each ‘pod’ to rotate 360 degrees. This incredible piece of engineering was realised by Unitspark (Hatfield). Again, Unitspark provided a huge amount of this work as sponsorship. It not only turns the structures, but doubles up as a trailer and lorry transportation too. Sadly, most of this engineering is hidden away inside the structure.


The designers from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios have been hands on throughout the process, even spending days in wintery fields helping S&S to char the timber for the cladding. 


Everyone has given so much time and effort to the project - it’s been a remarkable journey and one that all involved have learnt from. At SPUD, we know that without this support we would not be able to realise these ambitious projects. 



Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios - designers

S&S Construction - lead contractor

UnitSpark - construction enginneers

James Latham Ltd - materials supplier/sponsor



Competition Winner Announced!


After much deliberation and careful consideration by a highly experienced panel of judges, a design developed by of team of five young graduates in architecture and art was chosen. Four members of the team are all part of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in London, with the fifth member being Devon based artist Edward Crumpton.


The panel felt their winning design cleverly delivered on all the criteria of the competition and produced an elegant structure, that although contemporary in form is rich in texture, tradition and personality. The structures are crafted from sustainable materials and are respectful to their environments. Initially a striking silhouette in the landscape, they slowly reveal themselves as you approach, with an exterior surface of charred wood cladding, complex woven tarred marlin rope screens and subtle interior detailing. These quiet spaces will provide a retreat for the resident artist and a place of discovery for passers-by.


The winners stated that: Our design aspires to articulate the collaborative process, between architecture and art, which epitomizes this competition’s ethos, with a highly crafted and distinctive proposal for The Observatory. We’ve taken an aesthetic approach that is informed by the natural beauty of sustainable materials, the unique characteristics of the sites and the tripartite narrative between the resident artist, general public and wider landscape. With rigorous research, attention to detail and inter-disciplinary collaboration, we aim to realise a project of exceptional design quality that creates moments of meaningful engagement for everyone that has a chance to look upon, into or out of The Observatory. The Study and The Workshop, are responsive to the landscape through their ability to rotate. This will allow the structures to act as shifting framing devices to the landscape beyond and encourage the artist and audiences to interact by blurring the boundaries between public and private.


The resident artists will be able to orientate The Observatory to take maximum advantage of daylight and vistas, or to create shelter from the prevailing weather. The Study will provide a private and reflective space for the artists to work, while The Workshop will allow for a range of interaction with the general public.The Observatory will arrive pre-fabricated to site, the light-touch and simple installation methods causing minimum disruption and disturbance during installation and removal.


Charlotte Knight, of the winning team, said: “The team and I have been through a fantastic journey over the last few months and I cannot thank Mina, Lauren, Ross and Ed enough for their incredible hard work and dedication. Our work would not have been possible without the continuous support of everyone at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Jane Wernick Associates. We are overjoyed to have been chosen from a selection of such strong entries and we are now thoroughly looking forward to the next step of working with Mark and the team at SPUD in order to realise The Observatory.”


Mark Drury of SPUD said: “we’ve been overwhelmed with the high quality of entries received for the competition and making a decision was incredibly tough. We are delighted with the winning design and look forward to developing The Observatory with such a young, enthusiastic and energetic team of designers.”


The project team is currently working on securing all the funding to deliver the £50,000 construction and installation costs of The Observatory, plus funding for the residencies and engagement programme. A crowd-funding page will launch soon and we would be delighted to hear from potential sponsors for the programme.

The Design Competition and Obsworkatory

Images from top to bottom:


The Studio and Workshop shown on location at Lymington Salt Marshes


The design team working on the various constructin materials, inlcuding the charred wood cladding amd knotted marlin rope


Illustrations to show how the two structures can independently rotate to take advantage of daylight and vistas and respond to the varied landscapes


The interior of the Study and Workshop spaces


Top right: The Design Team - including Edward Crumpton, Charlotte Knight, Mina Gospavic, Lauren Shevills, Ross Galtress

Short LIST:

Congratulations to the following 5 teams on being short-listed for the Observatory Project.  We received some some really great entries and the judges very much enjoyed looking through all of the proposals. Interviews and a selection of the winning design will take place on 3rd April.

Plus a special mention for the student design by: Dhaval Hasmuclal, Ruth Evans, Kalpesh Parbat from Arts University Bournemouth.  The judges were intrigued by both the approach and the presentation of the panels.

The abve images were created by artist Kimvi Nguyen as part of the Obsworkatory weekend.  Kimvi uses found objects to create quick drawings, which are then captured using photography before being reconfigured



Below:  Images from the Obsworkatory workshops held at Artsway

"...thanks to all the team for a very engaging 

and thought provoking weekend. I am currently reflecting on some of the issues and the creative contexts in which practitioners might be able to co-exist in the landscape through the intervention of an architectural structure."

"Just got over the great experience that you have provided for us during this weekend. I really enjoyed being part of such a thought provoking workshop. The opportunity was a great chance to talk to like minded people with strong creative vision."

Obsworkatory Weekend, Nov 2013 - Outcomes:

As part of the emerging Observatory Project and development work, SPUD organized an intensive workshop weekend called the OBSWORKATORY.  The weekend, held at Artsway in the New Forest, was attended by over 30 artists, architects, students (from AUB and Portsmouth Universities) and other professionals.  The aim of the workshop being to explore potential sites for the Observatory structure and to unpack two key questions:


‘What is the nature of an artist residency?’
‘What is the Observatory and what does it need to do?’


Day One:

Participants visited sites at Lymington Salt Marshes and Winchester Science Centre (at the Western end of the South Downs).  The weather was wild and stormy and certainly made people think about siting a suitable structure in extreme conditions and the level of protection from the elements it would need to afford the artists.  The site visits looked at the physical, geographical, environmental and social opportunities and limitations.  The day very quickly generated intense discussions and ideas soon began to formulate.  It was clear that both sites offered really exciting opportunities for both interdisciplinary collaboration, the residencies and audience engagement.


Day Two:

The day was spent working in teams in the gallery spaces at Artsway.  This was a chance to reflect on the site visit and begin to explore the idea of residency and the needs of the artist and to begin to understand how the Observatory structure might facilitate this.  Stimulation conversation emerged around the actual idea and concept of ‘observation’- how could the structure facilitate, inhibit, enhance or restrict this notion.  There was also much discussion around the practicalities including access, costs, location and flexibility.


Key Outcomes from the weekend were (in no order of priority):


Shelter: providing protection, comfort, basic requirements, and the need to be flexible and usable seasonally


Permeability: providing an interface with an audience; allowing both physical and electronic access; creating a level of privacy and security to allow the artists to work


Observation: that this could be more than just visual and include sound, touch, temperature and even smell. Should the structure determine the views, orientation and opportunities for observation?  Observation should be seen as up and down, outwards and inwards, macro and micro


Landmark: To create a beacon, identity, icon.  The structure to have a visual impact and that scale, texture and colour should all be considered.  It should have a functional and aesthetic balance.  That it should work with the landscape.


Personalisation: should the artist(s) be allowed to change the structure/space on a temporary or permanent basis.  Should the interior of the structure ne refreshed after each residency or allowed to evolve.  Can the artists leave a mark/trace on the structure?  Is there a budget for each location that allows the artists to physically change and personalize the space?  Is this achieved through modular components that can be added or removed?


Energy: What renewable could be incorporated?  Solar and wind – opportunities for sponsorship.  What basic needs do the artists have.  Can the use of renewables reference local issues.  How will warmth and lighting be provided during colder, darker months?


Public interaction: When and how will this happen?  Will it be according to a schedule/programmed activities?  What degree of privacy is provided for the artist and can there be a system for announcing the artist is at ‘home’ – a flag for example.  How are incidental visits managed, ensuring an unplanned level of public access.


Movement:  the ability for the structure to turn and orientate to the sun, prevailing winds etc.  Can this also help facilitate power generation.  Is this entirely flexible or set within fixed parameters (i.e. timed, measured etc).  This also needs to consider the relocation of the structure and the costs and issues related to this.


Structure: could be movable, flexible, made up of multiple structures, mobile and transportable, containing multiple zones, created from new materials, incorporating sustainable/recycled materials, able to fit on a specified trailer size, through access gates and under road bridges etc.


Residency:  a call for all 12 artists made at the start of the programme. The finalization of artists agreed for Year 1 with potential amendments for Year 2. Should artists run consecutively in each location or could a group of artists collaborate and set their own timings/usage over a 6 month period.  Can more than one artist use the space simultaneously.  Opportunities fro showcasing work at the end of each 6 month location through partnerships with local galleries and other key locations.  All the residencies contribute to a final conference event and publication.  Provision of programmed on-sight workshops and activities. What parameters, if any, will be set in terms of the extent of the area that the artist can observe?

This short film gives a flavour of the Obsworkatory weekend from the participants point of view.


Created by Ricky Evans and Phil Smith

Obsworkatory: Pre-Competiton Workshops





The Competition has now closed and we are starting to long-list entries.



We are delighted to announce the following teams have been long-listed for the Observatory Competition. There has been a fantastic response to the competiton and we are grateful for the hard-work everyone has put into their fabulous ideas.


The images below show only one of the teams entry boards. Please click on the image to see an enlarged image and team members names.




The judging panel:


  • Will Alsop - Director/Architect - All Design, London

  • Bill Woodrow - Artist/Scultor, London and Hampshire

  • Wendy Perring - Director/Architect - PAD Studio, Lymington

  • Professor Lorraine Farrelly - Deputy Head, School of Architecture, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth

  • Ruth Slavid - Editor, Landscape Journal and freelance writer, London

  • James O’Callaghan - Director/Structural Engineer, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Winchester/London

  • Paula Orrell - Artistic Director, River Tamar Project






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