The Larch Observatory

For the Larch Observatory, we adopted a reductionist approach to design at the request of the owner: simplicity would be key, with minimal external features, clean lines, perfect symmetry and even the roofline to be simplified with a level, square frame disguising the required slope.

We chose Siberian Larch for its unique properties: known as the ‘tree of eternity’ it has long been prized for its longevity – its high resin content ensuring a life commensurate with many hardwoods.  It also possesses an aesthetic beauty beyond that of more common species – it has a unique warmth of appearance, frequent small knots and a lovely natural honey colour.  From a technical point-of-view, its natural moisture resistance ensures that rainwater is repelled rather than attracted to the structure.

As an upgrade to the design of our Hillside Obervatory, which was also clad in Siberian Larch, we were able to use specially-commissioned 6″ glue-laminated larch beams to form the frame of this observatory, giving it a chunky, sturdier appearance and providing the necessary strength to support the structure over its large 3m x 3m footprint: as usual, our suspended floor design provides complete isolation from the central telescope pier, whilst keeping the observatory free from moisture.

Internally, the observatory is finished in moisture-resistant MDF, which has been painted matt black to ensure an absence of internal reflections, creating the ideal environment for high-end astro-photography.  Specially sourced matt black electrical faceplates, red and white LED lighting, and a corner desk complete the interior.

The almost-flat roof of the observatory is uniquely constructed with a purlin design, ensuring the slope runs toward the North side, and it rolls on no less than twelve top-quality sealed ball-bearing stainless v-groove wheels.  Despite its considerable weight, it can be smoothly and easily opened with just one hand.

The entrance door is our standard solid hardwood-faced fire door for security, but is this time clad in matching Siberian larch, carefully planned to ensure the joints line up with the cladding around the door for a seamless appearance.