Off-grid tiny shelter and artist's studio is on the move

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The Observatory is currently installed in the South Downs National Park (Photo: Matt Dunkinson for SPUD)

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Last year, we reported on an Indiegogo campaign raising funds to build The Observatory: an off-grid tiny shelter and artist's studio that will visit various locations in England and allow an artist-in-residence to live and work, displaying their created art to visitors. Though it didn't reach its crowdfunding goal, the project survived, and was recently installed in Winchester's South Downs National Park.

The Observatory is the work of four architecture graduates from London-based firm Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios – Charlotte Knight, Mina Gospavic, Ross Galtress, Lauren Shevills, and Edward Crumpton – and was commissioned by SPUD Studio, the firm responsible for the Exbury Egg. It comprises two structures: The Workshop and The Study. The Workshop provides a space for members of the public to come and view the art created, while The Study is a tiny shelter in which the artist will live and work for up to two months at a time.

Both buildings are beautifully finished and clad in Siberian Larch, which was charred using a traditional Japanese method of treating timber called Shou Sugi Ban in a bid to preserve it. The team is now researching the method's possible use for future architectural applications, and will check to see how well it stands up to a couple of years of exposure to British weather.

Though you can't really see in the photos, The Study and The Workshop sit atop an integrated rotating stainless steel base that's controlled manually with a hand-operated wheel on the inside, allowing the artist-in-residence to move the shelter around to frame the best view (it takes one person around 6 minutes to complete a full revolution).

A roof-based solar panel array provides enough juice for basic tasks like charging a laptop or mobile device in The Study, and the micro-dwelling also contains a toilet, sleeping area, a wood-burning stove, and a work space. The Workshop, meanwhile, features a rainwater collection system that provides the artist with water for washing paints and fabrics in the installed sink.

Once The Observatory has finished its 6 month stint at the South Downs National Park, both structures will be placed upon a 2 x 10 m (6 x 32 ft) flat bed truck for transportation to the next location, the Lymington Salt Marshes.

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