South coast observatory designs revealed

Twenty designs have been shortlisted from a competition to create a temporary observatory-style studio space for artists.

The moveable observatory will visit four locations across southern England and see 12 artists from writers, sculptors, film makers and painters work in the structure over two years.

Image copyright SPUD

The temporary structure will be based at The Winchester Science Centre on the South Downs, Lymington Salt Marshes, Lymington in the New Forest National Park, the South Dorset Ridgeway and the River Tamar in Devon and Cornwall.

It will spend six months in each location with three artists each taking up residence in the space.

Image copyright SPUD

The project, which aims to make art accessible to the public, is being run by the Winchester-based Spud (Space Placemaking and Urban Design) organisation.

Spud's Mark Drury said: "It will create a space for artists and audiences to meet in unique locations."

Image copyright SPUD

He added: "The idea of the project is to explore the concept of 'look in - look out' and allow members of the public to visit the artists who will look at the geology, geography, heritage, social history, nature and environment of their site."

Image copyright SPUD

All designs had to be movable and able to be fitted on to one flatbed lorry or trailer, be able to withstand extreme weather and be capable of future use, re-use or recycling at the end of the two-year residency.

The observatory will also be used as a project providing art material for local schools, colleges, universities and community workshops.

Image copyright SPUD

Designs range from a pinhole camera to a giant hermit crab's shell made from fibreglass.

A wooden pumpkin-like studio with a folding frame features benches around a central wood burner to encourage conversation from visitors.

Image copyright SPUD

Designs have been chosen from teams which incorporate architects, artists, engineers, students and musicians with Nick Franglen of Lemon Jelly and English composer, Daniel Pemberton both submitting entries.

Image copyright SPUD

An exhibition of the 20 entries is touring all four locations with the winning design announced in April. The structure is expected to be in place by November.

The competition has been funded by Winchester City Council, New Forest National Park Authority and South Downs National Park Authority, plus South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership and the River Tamar Project. The capital cost of the observatory structure will be a maximum of £50,000.

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