By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Charles Barclay Architects’ off-grid Kielder Observatory

Observatory powered by wind turbine and PVs


It’s always refreshing to hear good news about how buildings are working in practice a few years after they open. Charles Barclay Architects’ Kielder Observatory (AJ 17.07.08) in Northumberland has attracted more than 40,000 visitors since it opened in 2008.

Powered by a Proven 2.5kW wind turbine installed by Winsund, the shelter operates completely off-grid. Ten 130 pW photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof add to the energy supply, with any excess generated stored in 24 deep cell batteries.


Whilst normally being sufficient to power the lighting, telescope drives, shutter drives, laptops and projector, in times of heavy or prolonged use - for example biannual ‘Star Camps’ - a portable generator is brought in to top up the batteries.

The observatory also has a composting toilet, and a wood burning stove. The structure with build cost totalling £415,000, was constructed from Douglas fir and Siberian larch.


Should RIBA have an annual sustainability award?

Vote in the AJ poll

Subscribe to Footprint by email and follow Hattie Hartman on twitter.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Related Jobs

Sign in to see the latest jobs relevant to you!

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters