The idea of function over form tends to rule the day when it comes to the design of observatories. The Gemma Observatory, however, decided to forgo the typical domed structure and opted instead for a more angular approach.
To help achieve this aesthetic, Anmahian Winton Architects decided to clad the project’s exterior in VMZ Flat lock zinc panels. The weathered-gray QUARTZ-ZINC panels easily conformed to the geometry of the project and helped the building achieve a look that resembled the granite bedrock outcroppings of the surrounding landscape. The observatory’s pattern of lock-seamed zinc cladding alternates between the irregular site topography and the building’s geometry.
The aesthetics provided by the zinc panels were important, but the most important quality they provide returns to the idea of function over form. The panels have the ability to dissipate the heat of the day after sunset, which eliminates nighttime air distortion that would otherwise compromise the entire purpose of the building.