Towers & Lights

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  • Towers & Lights – Roccascalegna
  • July 2017
  • Observatory Houses Competition – Entrant
  • Celia He & Catherine He

The crimson lit beacons of the Towers and Lights stargazing retreat emerges out of the hillside north of the historic Roccascalegna Castle, creating a constellation of lights that guides the eyes from the base of the hill to the apex of the castle’s watchtower and upwards to the stars.

The retreat is comprised of three parts:

The first part is the historic castle which serves as the main viewing point and is lightly touched by the project. The second is the sky lounge located half way up the hill and whose public viewing deck is an extension of the existing chapel plaza. In addition to being the visitors centre, the lounge provides two levels of flexible space that can host casual and educational programs for both visitors and community members alike. Finally, the third component is the living units, whose modular columnar forms sit lightly on the landscape and takes inspiration from the iconic tower itself.

To connect all three elements together, the retreat uses a wayfinding system of walkways and railings specialized to guide using red light. Red light allows the eyes to maintain the “dark adaption” essential for naked eye stargazing. This project proposes an upgrade of the existing railing system to provide a continuous lighting element that can switch to red light during stargazing hours. Additionally, a beacon fitted to the top of the castle tower will also shine red as a signal to the surrounding village (and beyond) that a night is perfect for stargazing.