To Glow, Of Connection, To Identify

Observatory Houses




Location: Roccascalegna, Italy
Year: 2017
Status: Competition
Team: Paul Coughlin, Michelle Schneider
Diagrammatically, a constellation is a series of points connected by lines. This means of organization can be found within the man-made and natural realms of roccascalegna. Point-like elements are positioned within the landscape, with linear elements that serve as the meeting grounds between points; the point elements anchor each piece of roccascalegna into its current inhabitance. The diagrammatic idea of the constellation is found throughout roccascalegna and serves as the design generator.
The constellation of our proposal: The sky lounge is set within the current castle and links together the round towers serving as ancient geometric anchor points. Below, the telescoping observatory housing building serves as the living quarters for the resort. The housing structure floats above the adjacent rocky hill. Each housing unit is centered around an exterior cylindrical outdoor observatory space that reflects the night sky. The units pay homage to the village of roccascalegna through its collective massing, arranged densely next to each other along the terrain.
The thickness of the housing structure’s envelope borrows from the masonry walls of the castle. Tiny openings in the structure’s facade, reminiscent of arrow slits, are scattered across the geometry like stars in the night sky. The thick walls in plan, previously used for defensive purposes and structural stability, create a contrast between the intimate interior domestic space and the vast exterior around the castle. The nighttime effect is to create a new constellational condition with faint points of light, allowing the inhabitant the ability to gauge celestial movement using the apertures as a fixed measure. Conversely, the cylindrical observation spaces immerses the inhabitant in the endless dance of the night sky.