© 2019 by JAMES STOCKWELL ARCHITECT

Observatory House

1/9

The Observatory House is a stone house for two geologists to live amongst the Jamison Valley Canyon System of the Blue Mountains in NSW. 

It's a robust mountain top house to withstand the elements and exposure. Vertical cracks in the sandstone cliffs of the Blue Mountains

in geological terms are called 'joints'. The Observatory house design uses this natural phenomenon in it's planning and the house forms as a series of stone monoliths, an abstraction of the surrounding cliffs. The orientation of the stone building walls creates protected north

courtyards, directs views to the valleys, and gathers North sun in winter. The rooms have an interconnectedness and separation 

suiting daily family living and larger gatherings.  Astronomy and the observatory became central to the brief and an opening roof was resolved to view of the Southern sky.

The pallet of materials is small and of local Sandstone and zinc. The sandstone walls are solid hydra-split blocks to give the work an essence of being hewn from the mountain cliff edge. Insulated thermal mass and a 9m glass floor bring light and store heat in cooler months. There is 150,000 Lt of water storage, solar power and the primary building element is locally sourced for low embodied energy. 

Local builders and craftspeople enabled a bespoke work of natural stone and opening roofs etc. to be built cost effectively in considerable detail in a managed way with the owners.