Our response to the competition brief is to see the observatory as a theatre; where the roles of the observer vs observed are often in flux. Within the observatory theatre sits the sky lounge which is a freestanding volume of programmatic spaces ‘submerged’ into a man-made pool at the entrance of the castle. This move seeks to enhance the spatial quality of the new volumes while providing reflections of night sky into the interiors. From the outside, the sky lounge mimics a stage. It rejects stability in favour of movement, and rates delight over simplicity. The scenes of activities taking place across the divided interior spaces seem interconnected, and yet private.
At the end of the mezzanine restaurant enclosure, the inserted box stops short of an over sailing roof to leave a generous double height space that sit against the fully glazed gable ends. These add to the light and airy atmosphere and serves as a community reading/ relaxation space, bringing together those who live, work and visit Roccascalegna. The metal roof structure is supported by steel slat set out in a series of structural bays. Above this, the pitch roof borrows the language of Roccascalegna, sitting lightly over the new proposed volumes, opening up skylights to the delightful Roccascalegna’s sky. At discrete areas of these pitched roofs, translucent PV cells are introduced sensitively in to supplement the running of the sky lounge. Beyond the volume, a light featured lift is introduced to provide direct access for users of the cabins and apartments.
Accompanying the sky lounge are a series of observatory houses that are sensitively inserted into the site; embracing the steep terrain while maximising the breath-taking views of Roccascalegna scenes. Expanding the metaphor of theatre into the houses, floorplates and programs are staggered in height and revolve around an interior atrium space, encouraging movements, interactions and visuals while bringing in daylight and night sky. Sensitive material palette is chosen to respect the site while ensuring the houses are modern. With the steep terrains, the roofs of the houses serve as an opportunity to act as viewing decks, giving users expansive views of the night sky.