Funky Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire is the perfect place for stargazing

August 31, 2017 by  
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The new Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire defies architectural tradition by rejecting the established dome form. Instead, this private astronomical observatory looks like it has been carved out of the rock on which it stands. Anmahian Winton Architects designed the building as a faceted volume that creates optimal conditions for sky observation. The building is located on a remote mountain summit in central New Hampshire. It sits on a granite outcropping, amidst a very “dark” landscape with minimal light pollution,  which would potentially obstruct views of the night sky. Related: X-Studio’s Lightweave Palm Observatory is Made Entirely From Palm Leaves Gemma’s faceted form reflects the surrounding terrain, while its zinc cladding makes it look like a single piece of stone. Its interior, on the other hand, provides warmth through the presence of fir plywood . It houses a research office, sleeping bunk, and warming room on the first floor, and an exterior observation deck accessible via a helical stair. One of the most important aspects of the design is the role its shape and cladding plays in facilitating its function. The outstanding heat transfer capability facilitates sky observation by minimizing temperature differential distortion. Furthermore, cuts in the zinc cladding create strategically placed openings oriented towards both geological and celestial landmarks. + Anmahian Winton Architects Via v2com

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Funky Gemma Observatory in New Hampshire is the perfect place for stargazing

Solar roof tiles help power this secondary school in rural Kenya

August 31, 2017 by  
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Schools in rural Kenya often suffer through frequent power outages, and energy from the national grid can be expensive. But solar roof tiles from Strauss Energy offer a cheaper, renewable alternative. At the 275-student Gaitheri Secondary School in Murang’a County, the reliable source of electricity has enhanced students’ performance since they can study at night, and allowed the school to give computer lessons. Strauss Energy works to place building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) on structures, such as the solar roof tiles at the Kenya school. The tiles are intended for rooftops in place of solar panels , and provide a clean source of energy . Battery storage at the school ensures it receives power even on cloudy days and at night. Thanks to the solar roof tiles, Gaitheri Secondary School only pays around 1,500 Kenyan shillings, or about $14.50, a month, which the Thomson Reuters Foundation notes is essentially a fixed charge for access to power from the grid. Related: Solar Sister Empowers Women to Bring Solar Energy to Rural Africa Teacher Jackson Kamau Kiragu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation they can now offer computer lessons, saying, “We’ve got 18 computers, but power was a challenge before Strauss Energy came on board.” Organizations Christian Aid and the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance commissioned a survey earlier this year that found only around 57 percent of Kenyans are hooked up to the grid, so there’s potentially a large demand for off-grid power. Strauss Energy Chief Operations Officer Charity Wanjiku said they aim to develop BIPV technology to take advantage of Kenya’s sunshine, which isn’t fully exploited. She said while the technology may be expensive for homes – tiles cost between $20 and $250 each, based on their size – it’s optimal for schools, hospitals, or estate developers. Strauss Energy is researching ways to lower the cost of the solar tiles while boosting efficiency, and has plans to build a plant able to pump out 10,000 units every day. Via Thomson Reuters Foundation Images via Strauss Energy Facebook

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Solar roof tiles help power this secondary school in rural Kenya

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