Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sleeping under a universe of stars

I've been watching Grand designs recently, it's a great show. I love the way that the houses always go over budget, the time it takes to build a house is always under estimated and the smallest issues always become the most problematic and expensive to solve. Let alone the crazy projects people decide to undertake in order to have an interesting house. A small scrapyard in the middle of London, a 16th Century castle that is quite literally falling down, an underground house, a self build etc. Every episode has it's drama and therefore entertainment.

The Parkes Radio Telescope, I could easily live
in a modified version of this! Credit: CSIRO
So of course, that makes me want to have my own Grand Designs project. One with a difference (aren't they all). I want to design and build a house that is also an observatory!

I'd love to have a converted observatory, but those are mostly still being used as observatories or museums, or they are extremely remote. There are a few abandoned observatories but again, not ideal locations.

There are some places around that have designed homes with added observatories, and there are very many kit or DIY observatories you can build for your own house. There are even portable observatories. But I want to go further than that. I want my house to be a live in observatory with two functions, a house and a scientific instrument.

It'd be really cool to live in a house that used to be (or still is) an observatory. I could go to the dome and use the telescope at night, and when it isn't in use, it'd be a cool circular lounge room with a really interesting feature in the middle!

Observatory in the middle of a lounge room.

An example of an excellent house would be a recreation of the radio telescope out at Parkes otherwise known as "The Dish." I've been in there a few times (even on the dish!) and the space inside The Dish would be perfect for a house, it even has a kitchen and sleeping areas anyway, because while observing, astronomers basically live there! I imagine a house like that would be similar to living in a lighthouse. Lots of stairs, cylinder type building, and also really cool!

I think some of the observatories around the world are spectacular looking buildings and would be wonderful to recreate and live in.

 The list of pros about living in an observatory include: It's awesome, you have an observatory in your house, it's great for kids and learning about space, it's unique, you get heaps of nerd cred (very important). Compare that to the negligible amount of cons and you're on a winner.

I think with a small amount of imagination a home could be built to honour the observatory, as well as function as one. Sure there would be unique challenges, but every week on Grand Designs there are unique challenges. An observatory house would not be simply a cool design for the design sake, it would be a design that has a purpose. A lot of cases on Grand Designs are all about "The personification of the builders identity in bricks and mortar," well an observatory house is that for me, it tells you who I am and what I'm about.

They say that your house is your castle, I disagree. I think your house should be your observatory!

So I guess I'll get to my design then send it off to Kevin McCloud at the BBC so he can have a look at my bespoke (drink!) and unique design to see what he says. Until it actually happens though, I guess my little tabletop dobsonian and regular house will have to do.

Clear skies!