Kielder Observatory open competition

The Kielder Partnership, through their commissioning programme Art and Architecture at Kielder are developing a project to create a small observatory to be located in the hills surrounding Kielder Village in Northumberland. Art and Architecture at Kielder has a proven track record of commissioning and delivering high-profile art and architectural projects including James Turrell’s Kielder Skyspace, Softroom’s Belvedere and Coombe and Kitchen’s Minotaur contemporary maze.

The Kielder Partnership is seeking imaginative responses to the brief that equally satisfy the practical and aspirational elements of this project and ultimately create a commission that will add to their portfolio of publicly accessible contemporary art and architecture in the landscape. The observatory will take advantage of Kielder’s dark skies and lack of light pollution – users will include specialist and amateur astronomers, researchers and small school groups. The scheme must be fully accessible to all.

It is expected that once the competition phase is complete, the cost of realization will be a maximum of 125K, excluding astronomical equipment.

Stage 1 of the competition seeks concept designs (presented on a maximum of two A2 sheets) which will be judged anonymously. A shortlist of up to six will be selected and the authors invited to proceed to the next stage. During Stage 2 of the competition, anonymity will be lifted and shortlisted designers will invited for a site visit. Final assessment will involve further exploration of the Stage 1 concept designs at an interview. The shortlisted schemes will also be reviewed by a technical panel and subject to a cost appraisal.

The competition brief is currently available, and the question deadline is July 5th. The registration deadline is August is August 9th, and the submission deadline is August 16th. Stage 1 assessments take place mid-August to mid-September and those making the shortlist will be notified in mid-September. A site visit will take place September 28th. Stage 2 assessment/interviews are tentatively scheduled for October 17th. The winner will be decided in October, and project completion is estimated to be October 2006.

The judging panel will include:
*Peter Sharpe, Curator, Kielder Partnership
*Sarah Wigglesworth, RIBA Architectural Adviser
*Alex Maclennan, Forestry Commission
*Gary Fildess, Astronomy Adviser
*Matthew Jarratt/Rebecca Farley – Arts Council North East

The first prize winner will be awarded 5,000 and a total of 3,000 will be distributed amongst the remaining shortlisted designers.

The competition is open to architects, engineers, and professionals from related disciplines. Collaboration between these disciplines is actively encouraged. Artists are eligible so long as they can indicate appropriate technical back-up when required. Students are not eligible. To register and receive the competition brief send a cheque for 25.00 (including VAT), payable to RIBA Competitions. All enquiries should be addressed to the competition organizers:

RIBA Competitions Office
6 Melbourne Street
Leeds LS2 7PS
T : 0113 2341335
F : 0113 2460744
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