James Latham sponsors the UK’s first floating observatory


United Kingdom

Following on from the enormous success of the Exbury Egg last year, timber and panel products distributor, James Latham has agreed to support another initiative by SPUD (Space, Placemaking & Urban Design) which offers opportunities for artists to engage with specific areas of our environment and the landscape.

The entire project, which has been funded by the Arts Council England has seen a team of five graduate architects from London practice, Feilden, Clegg, Bradley utilise a number of timber materials supplied by James Latham to create the Observatory, which is a sculpture, a workspace, a shelter and a look-out, for 12 artist residencies over two years and will reside in four UK locations.

The materials included Western Red Cedar and Larch which was charred and used for the external cladding as well as a consignment of Accoya, the long-life, high performance wood, Medite Tricoya Extreme and SmartPly, which the designers used for the external edging as well as the front and back frames and all the doors and windows. Interestingly the team has used the latest wood preservation technology in the form of Wood Acetylation using Accoya and Medite Tricoya Extreme and SmartPly and in contrast, they have also used the ancient Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban (translates to burnt cedar board) that claims to be both rot resistant and fire resistant for the external cladding. The Architects involved will be charred timber using this experience as a part of their Technical Thesis for their R & I application.

Beginning at the end of January, the first location for the Observatory will be The South Downs National Park in Winchester where it will stay for six months before moving to Lymington Salt Marshes in New Forest National Park in July. The tag line for the programme is ‘Look Out, Look In’, as space will allow artists to use it as a location to look out from and observe the surroundings, whilst at the same time the public will have direct access to look in and meet the artists, see their work, watch the process and explore and enjoy the Observatory structure.

Applications used in this project:Cladding Cladding

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