AN observatory which makes the most of the black, pollution-free skies of Northumberland proved a star turn at a major awards ceremony.
The new observatory, in Kielder Water & Forest Park, was one of two North East winners in the national Civic Trust Awards, which are celebrating their 50th anniversary.
The observatory was built to resemble a pier jutting out over the landscape at the top of Black Fell.
Built almost entirely of timber, the building is self sufficient and features include an onsite wind turbine, composting toilet and wood burning stove.
Elisabeth Rowark, Kielder Partnership director, said: “We are delighted Kielder Observatory has won for a Civic Trust Award as the awards not only recognise the best in the built environment, but also how the development benefits the wider community culturally, socially or economically; something very close to our hearts.”
The observatory was designed by Charles Barclay Architects as part of a Royal Institute of British Architects design competition which attracted hundreds of entries from all over the world.
Gary Fildes, chairman of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society, which runs the observatory, said: “Kielder Observatory is a fantastic resource for all who want to visit. This facility is platform to observe the wonders of this inspiring and mystical universe, from a hill top in Kielder Water & Forest Park.”
The other regional award winner at the ceremony in the Emirates Stadium in London was Northumbria University’s City Campus East.
David Pritchard, who chairs the National Awards Panel, said: “The universities sector, which, post-war, were often built on the edge of town, has a good example in Northumbria University where public through routes help encourage integration of gown with town.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Wathey said: “This award confirms our belief that City Campus East is a development that has not only brought together the two sides of our campus, but has helped to further integrate the university community with the city.”
COMMENDATIONS in the Civic Trust Awards went to four buildings in the North East.
Sunderland’s £6m thePlace arts and business centre opened last year in the city’s historic Sunniside quarter as a symbol of the area's regeneration.
thePlace incorporates performance space, art exhibition areas, a café and meeting rooms in addition to workspaces for up to 20 companies.
A commendation also went to the £20m Sunderland Aquatic Centre, designed by Red Box Architecture in Newcastle.
The centre, which also won The Journal’s Landmark of the Year title, was built on a brownfield site adjacent to the Stadium of Light.
Newcastle College’s Lifestyle Academy and the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art also won commendations.
Mentions went to the Live Theatre redevelopment in Newcastle and the sculpture to 19th Century Gateshead fiddle player at Bottle Bank in the town.
What judges said
WHAT the judges said:
• Kielder Observatory: "Delicately placed in the landscape, this is a unique building that provides a stimulating environment."
• Northumbria University City Campus East: "The overall development links the two campuses. This well used new route provides an excellent connection for staff, students and the public."
• Sunderland Aquatic Centre: "An unusual and distinctive design for a sports facility, the scheme provides the region’s only 50m competitive swimming pool."
• thePlace, Sunderland: "Light and quirky, it provides a much needed facility for creative start up businesses."
*James Hill monument, Gateshead: "The sculpture celebrates the life of the 19th Century fiddler and is a permanent piece of public art. "
*Live Theatre, Newcastle: "A combination of listed buildings brought together to provide an accessible entertainment venue."