New Observatory in Crosby

Progetto vincitore del concorso internazionale Crosby / United Kingdom / 2008

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Design Team
Architects: Duggan Morris Architects
Structural Engineers: Elliott Wood
Services & Sustainability Engineers: Skelly & Couch
Cladding Engineers: Billings Design Associates
Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon
Ecology and Fire: Arup


The Observatory will be one of three complementary attractions for Crosby beach in Merseyside. One is the installation Another Place by renowned artist Antony Gormley. The other is the planned Sefton Water Centre, a major water sports, events and educational facility.

Duggan Morris Architects’ design splits the building functions into two distinct structures - a visitor centre and an observation deck. The site is envisaged as a table-top onto which these two elements are placed.

The visitor centre is the first destination point, intended for temporary exhibitions and seminars. The first floor spaces (cafe, restaurant and galleries) benefit from views out towards the Anthony Gormley ‘Another Place’ installation. The roof is also accessible, offering an open-air amphitheatre with more intimate views of the wildlife reserve.

Working with Elliott Wood, structural engineers, the elegance of the tower form has been enhanced through the careful treatment of the structural solution of the building - a series of rotating ellipses that slowly diminish in size as one ascends the building. Wrapped in a smooth, translucent skin, the internal skeletal structure is visible but does not dominate. A notional ‘rip’ in the skin at high level signifies the location of the internal observation deck, whilst the external platform is poised at roof level.


In splitting the functions into two buildings, a promenade is created and the route from the car park to the top storey observation deck becomes an activity in its own right. Along this journey will be small canopy or hut structures intended to offer points of rest, reflection and activity. As one approaches the observation tower, the promenade lifts and ‘coils’ into the building, depositing the visitor at second floor level. At this point the cathedral-like quality of the tower is revealed, with uninterrupted views up to the lower deck located over 30-metres above.

When viewed from the landscape, the observation decks will glow like a giant table lamp at night, using of photoluminescent material for the skin enabling it to glow without the need for artificial lighting. Thus, the building becomes seasonal responding to light throughout the year.

The site has an abundance of natural energy sources: wind energy, tidal power and unrestricted solar access. Working with sustainability engineers Skelly & Couch, the winning scheme has an aspiration to be carbon neutral in energy use.

Rainwater will be collected from the roofs of both buildings for use in flushing toilets and irrigation. A green water storage tank will be incorporated at high level in the observatory with an oversized pipe serving as additional storage. In this way green water can be delivered without the need for pumping. Solar thermal collectors will be used to provide hot water to the visitor centre.

In addition, a number of systems are proposed to reduce the buildings environmental impact. The façade treatment will be developed to maximise daylight whilst avoiding overheating and glare; a system of ground pipes to enable air movement through the building without excessive drafts and to enable free cooling in summer; a ground source heat pump which uses the ground mass beneath the building as a natural heat source and sink and a system utilising tidal energy is proposed to offset the energy consumption of the lift and heat pump.
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    Design Team Architects: Duggan Morris Architects Structural Engineers: Elliott Wood Services & Sustainability Engineers: Skelly & Couch Cladding Engineers: Billings Design Associates Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon Ecology and Fire: Arup The Observatory will be one of three complementary attractions for Crosby beach in Merseyside. One is the installation Another Place by renowned artist Antony Gormley. The other is the planned Sefton Water Centre, a major water sports,...

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