MEUS OCULUS: OBSERVATORY CABINS
2017 | Roccascalegna | Italy
Throughout ancient times and up to the present day, human beings have continued to exhibit an enduring fascination with the celestial bodies and their cyclical movements, seeming to somehow search for the meaning of their own existence within the orderly movement of the heavens. Thus, the night-time sky became a ‘grand textbook’ from which early humans began to gain a profound sense of cyclic time, of order and symmetry, and of the predictability of nature.
The design is primarily defined by analysis of external phenomena and principles that connect us to the larger cosmological context on the one hand, and ceremonial participation on the other. Site considerations including climate (visibility, wind, temperature, humidity, precipitation) and the immediate surroundings (landscape, trees, views) were critical in helping define the overall distribution strategy of the observatory houses within the established intervention area as well as establishing the internal layout and connection to the immediate natural surroundingS. From an astronomical point of view, a series of studies informed the general massing and design directions, favoring a permanent visual engagement with the night-sky. For instance, the orientation of each design is defined by the location of the North Star (Polaris), engaging the network of proposed elements with the patterns of movement of other celestial bodies. Polaris, "the Pathway" or "the Pointer" has long been regarded as the most important star in the heavens, representing the only fixed point from which to draw measurements for celestial navigation and for astrometry. As a result, the narrative throughout each of the designs has been defined so as to help the visitor maintain a constant visual connection with the skies, culminating with the motif of the ‘oculus’, acting as a portal, as the interstitial membrane towards a state of meditation and transcendence.