in context of room, building and city

>Kielder Observatory 2005

art and architecture in kielder, open competition, Building planning: Jan Dilling, DE Architekten, Berlin, Visualisation: Dipl.Ing. Rafal Wamka, Berlin © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Fritz Balthaus: Kielder Observatory 2005

Cast of a cameras inside


To find a form for the Kielder Observatory a silicon cast was made of a reflex camera’s interior space. Beforehand the optics, mirror and glass prism were removed from the camera. After the silicon had hardened, the camera cast was taken apart and the silicon form removed. Thus a positive model of the series of spaces within the camera was created.


Enlargement of the Model into a Building


The small, massive silicon form was then “cleared out” in the second step. It was enlarged into a building for use as an observatory. In the cone-shaped area of the camera’s lens an observation space with telescopes, is to be installed. The roof can be opened by sliding it to the side. The area of the reflex mirror in the floor below will be used for the access to observation space via an elevation platform. The area that once held the prism in the camera, is designed to be a computer workplace. The entire construction of the building will is covered in polished metal. This method of transforming the interior space of a camera into a shiny metallic ob-servatory gives the impression that a UFO from the cosmos has landed in the Kielder landscape.


Motiv and object


A camera is architecture constructed for perception. Its spaces are optimized for incoming light. Light finds its way through the lens portal on its way to the photographer’s eye and then to the light-sensitive film. The cast of the camera black box, is turned into the white box of an observatory from which people can observe – and photograph – objects in space.