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The Madawaska Highlands Observatory will be situated on a 450 meter high plateau in the Madawaska Highlands of Ontario, on a 41 hectare (100 acres) parcel of land, directly adjacent to thousands of hectares of protected crown land. The location was carefully selected for its excellent topography, convenient highway access, isolation, and most importantly the extremely dark night skies. The locale is untouched by light pollution allowing the Milky Way to cast a soft shadow.
The 25,000 square foot Observatory Visitors Centre will include a state-of-the-art digital planetarium, a display and exhibit hall, a restaurant, a boutique, a high-definition lecture hall, several special use rooms, a professional telescope control room and an administrative area. When completed, the Visitors Centre will be the largest commercial off-grid facility in North America. The building will supply all of its own energy requirements by utilizing photo-voltaic panels, solar thermal panels, and geo-thermal energy, all the while minimizing its water requirements through the collection of rain water and the recycling of its grey water.
The project metaphorically floats on a topography of the skies above the visitor and heightens the experience of learning about space and its elements while moving through the facility.
The undulating roof recalls the infinite landscape of space. Its angular shape gives the sense of an ever altering form depending on one’s position in relation to it. It is both enveloping and impenetrable. This roof form allows the visitor to never be disconnected from the surrounding landscape, only touching the ground where needed in particular spaces, or floating above the ground to give remarkable views in others.