Dark Sky Project

Website

The first—and currently largest—IDA-designated dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere, the 4,367 km2 Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, comprises Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin and is the centrepiece of astrotourism in New Zealand.

Located on the shores of Lake Tekapo, Dark Sky Project was conceived to help facilitate astrotourism in the area and houses an experience area, a café/bar/restaurant with commercial kitchen, a retail outlet, a gathering space for visitors and tour groups, administration space and observatory, says Jasper van der Lingen, Director of Sheppard & Rout Architects, the firm tasked with designing the facility.

“The Mackenzie basin—and Lake Tekapo in particular—has long been known for its stunning beauty and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd has been drawing tourists for decades but Dark Sky Project marks a new major tourism focus for the town of Takapō.

“Designed in consultation with Ngāi Tahu—the facility’s operators—and the local Rūnanga to ensure it reflected their values and aspirations, the building is evocative of the glacial activity that carved out the basin many thousand of years ago, as well as the creation story of Māori mythology.”

Key features of the landscape and natural environment can be seen in the building’s exterior material palette, which includes curved, fluted concrete walls that reference the mountains of the area—formed and rounded off by glacial action then eroded by the effects of wind and rain.

“Similar to the Moraine deposits that accumulate at the end of the lake, the building exists as a remnant of the forces that shaped the land, above which, the immensity of the dark sky under which visitors move—represented by a black gridded timber roof structure—hovers,” says Jasper.

“Symbolically, the manner in which the roof plane hovers over the ground was also intended to indicate the separation of Rakinui and Papātūanuku, as informed by the creation story.

“In addition, the creation of the lakes by Rākaikautū by carving out the land with his ko, Tuwhakaroria, informed the plan and the split through the centre of the building. With such a rich history to reference, the catchcry of the concept became ‘Astronomy meets Mythology’.”

Internally, the project needed to accommodate a number of functions within a relatively small footprint to be in keeping with local clear sight line restrictions. This included the installation of a 10-metre dome under which is housed a 125-year-old, fully restored, Brashear Telescope.

“The telescope is such a beautiful piece of equipment and the opportunity to showcase it within the facility was too good to pass up, so we have placed it centrestage within a glass-walled enclosure with the other spaces radiated outward from it,” says Jasper.

Exacting regulations around light mitigation also informed much of the materiality of the project including exterior lighting and the use of glazing, which not only needed to provide unimpeded views of the lake but needed to ensure that, at night, there was as little interior light egress and reflections as possible.

Dark Sky Project was completed mid-2019 after an 18-month build programme.

Words: Justin Foote
Photography: Stephen Goodenough Photographer

Architectural Team:
Jasper van der Lingen
Jonathan Kennedy
Duncan Barron
Perry Royal (from Royal Associates Architects)
Ella van der Lingen
Interior Design:
Thoughtful

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
Earth & Sky, Tekapo

Products in this project

Show more categories!

Professionals used on this project

Show more categories!

Also from Sheppard & Rout Architects

Show more categories!
Done tagging
Full screen

Dark Sky Project

The first—and currently largest—IDA-designated dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere, the 4,367 km2 Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, comprises Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin and is the centrepiece of astrotourism in New Zealand.

Located on the shores of Lake Tekapo, Dark Sky Project was conceived to help facilitate astrotourism in the area and houses an experience area, a café/bar/restaurant with commercial kitchen, a retail outlet, a gathering space for visitors and tour groups, administration space and observatory, says Jasper van der Lingen, Director of Sheppard & Rout Architects, the firm tasked with designing the facility.

“The Mackenzie basin—and Lake Tekapo in particular—has long been known for its stunning beauty and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd has been drawing tourists for decades but Dark Sky Project marks a new major tourism focus for the town of Takapō.

“Designed in consultation with Ngāi Tahu—the facility’s operators—and the local Rūnanga to ensure it reflected their values and aspirations, the building is evocative of the glacial activity that carved out the basin many thousand of years ago, as well as the creation story of Māori mythology.”

Key features of the landscape and natural environment can be seen in the building’s exterior material palette, which includes curved, fluted concrete walls that reference the mountains of the area—formed and rounded off by glacial action then eroded by the effects of wind and rain.

“Similar to the Moraine deposits that accumulate at the end of the lake, the building exists as a remnant of the forces that shaped the land, above which, the immensity of the dark sky under which visitors move—represented by a black gridded timber roof structure—hovers,” says Jasper.

“Symbolically, the manner in which the roof plane hovers over the ground was also intended to indicate the separation of Rakinui and Papātūanuku, as informed by the creation story.

“In addition, the creation of the lakes by Rākaikautū by carving out the land with his ko, Tuwhakaroria, informed the plan and the split through the centre of the building. With such a rich history to reference, the catchcry of the concept became ‘Astronomy meets Mythology’.”

Internally, the project needed to accommodate a number of functions within a relatively small footprint to be in keeping with local clear sight line restrictions. This included the installation of a 10-metre dome under which is housed a 125-year-old, fully restored, Brashear Telescope.

“The telescope is such a beautiful piece of equipment and the opportunity to showcase it within the facility was too good to pass up, so we have placed it centrestage within a glass-walled enclosure with the other spaces radiated outward from it,” says Jasper.

Exacting regulations around light mitigation also informed much of the materiality of the project including exterior lighting and the use of glazing, which not only needed to provide unimpeded views of the lake but needed to ensure that, at night, there was as little interior light egress and reflections as possible.

Dark Sky Project was completed mid-2019 after an 18-month build programme.

Words: Justin Foote
Photography: Stephen Goodenough Photographer

Architectural Team:
Jasper van der Lingen
Jonathan Kennedy
Duncan Barron
Perry Royal (from Royal Associates Architects)
Ella van der Lingen
Interior Design:
Thoughtful

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
Earth & Sky, Tekapo

Products in this project

Show more categories!

Professionals used on this project

Show more categories!

Also from Sheppard & Rout Architects

Show more categories!
Done tagging
Full screen

Dark Sky Project

The first—and currently largest—IDA-designated dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere, the 4,367 km2 Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, comprises Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin and is the centrepiece of astrotourism in New Zealand.

Located on the shores of Lake Tekapo, Dark Sky Project was conceived to help facilitate astrotourism in the area and houses an experience area, a café/bar/restaurant with commercial kitchen, a retail outlet, a gathering space for visitors and tour groups, administration space and observatory, says Jasper van der Lingen, Director of Sheppard & Rout Architects, the firm tasked with designing the facility.

“The Mackenzie basin—and Lake Tekapo in particular—has long been known for its stunning beauty and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd has been drawing tourists for decades but Dark Sky Project marks a new major tourism focus for the town of Takapō.

“Designed in consultation with Ngāi Tahu—the facility’s operators—and the local Rūnanga to ensure it reflected their values and aspirations, the building is evocative of the glacial activity that carved out the basin many thousand of years ago, as well as the creation story of Māori mythology.”

Key features of the landscape and natural environment can be seen in the building’s exterior material palette, which includes curved, fluted concrete walls that reference the mountains of the area—formed and rounded off by glacial action then eroded by the effects of wind and rain.

“Similar to the Moraine deposits that accumulate at the end of the lake, the building exists as a remnant of the forces that shaped the land, above which, the immensity of the dark sky under which visitors move—represented by a black gridded timber roof structure—hovers,” says Jasper.

“Symbolically, the manner in which the roof plane hovers over the ground was also intended to indicate the separation of Rakinui and Papātūanuku, as informed by the creation story.

“In addition, the creation of the lakes by Rākaikautū by carving out the land with his ko, Tuwhakaroria, informed the plan and the split through the centre of the building. With such a rich history to reference, the catchcry of the concept became ‘Astronomy meets Mythology’.”

Internally, the project needed to accommodate a number of functions within a relatively small footprint to be in keeping with local clear sight line restrictions. This included the installation of a 10-metre dome under which is housed a 125-year-old, fully restored, Brashear Telescope.

“The telescope is such a beautiful piece of equipment and the opportunity to showcase it within the facility was too good to pass up, so we have placed it centrestage within a glass-walled enclosure with the other spaces radiated outward from it,” says Jasper.

Exacting regulations around light mitigation also informed much of the materiality of the project including exterior lighting and the use of glazing, which not only needed to provide unimpeded views of the lake but needed to ensure that, at night, there was as little interior light egress and reflections as possible.

Dark Sky Project was completed mid-2019 after an 18-month build programme.

Words: Justin Foote
Photography: Stephen Goodenough Photographer

Architectural Team:
Jasper van der Lingen
Jonathan Kennedy
Duncan Barron
Perry Royal (from Royal Associates Architects)
Ella van der Lingen
Interior Design:
Thoughtful

Visit professional's website
Enquire about the process / fees
Contact details
Earth & Sky, Tekapo
Done tagging
Full screen