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Students build wilderness observatory

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Students at an international architecture summer school have built a timber observatory in the Latvian town of Cēsis

The structure was built in the Pirtsupites Grava Valley as part of the Riga Technical University’s two-week-long international architecture summer school.  

The group of thirteen students worked with the town’s mayor to propose an alternative vision of ‘re-wilding’ the valley, which is currently seen as undefined green space and is costly for the council to maintain.

Students suggested the council stop cutting the grass within a defined zone in the valley allowing a natural wildflower meadow to develop and a biodiversity corridor to be created.

The observatory structure was built as a catalyst for the wildlife plan to provide the opportunity to watch the space develop.

The timber structure houses a room 4.5m above the ground where the walls can be opened up and balanced on counterweights, allowing views out across the valley.

The room is clad in rubber shingles which have been recycled from the nearby local railway. The waste rubber flaps were used as buffers between the rail and the sleepers along the tracks and would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Wilderness observatory

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