Stargazing in one of the world's largest Dark Sky Parks has hotted up thanks to a new art and architecture project.
The Warm Room, a contemporary timber structure, has opened at Kielder Campsite in Northumberland for visitors to enjoy as part of their stargazing experience.
The shelter, which can accommodate up to 20 people, was designed and built by students at Newcastle University’s School of Architecture in partnership with Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust’s Art & Architecture programme and local residents.
It provides a sheltered space and equipment charging point for stargazers who take part in overnight star camps, as well as a venue for community meetings, educational events and stargazing seminars. Campers can also make use of a sheltered external cooking area.
Peter Sharpe, Kielder Art & Architecture curator, said: “Kielder Water & Forest Park has become a hot spot for astro-tourism, attracting amateur astronomers from across the country so it’s important we give people the best visitor experience and a network of opportunities to enjoy our dark skies.
“This project is another great example of partnership working and it’s fantastic that the students have really listened and engaged with the community, creating a unique venue to help benefit those who are viewing the stars.”
The Warm Room is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Newcastle University’s School of Architecture and Kielder Art & Architecture's Testing Ground programme, and follows the success of the Stargazing Pavilion constructed at Stonehaugh last year by a similar group of students.
Their latest efforts add to the Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park designation, awarded to an area of 580 square miles covering Kielder Water & Forest Park and Northumberland National Park in December 2013.
Graham Farmer, Director of Architecture at Newcastle University, said: “The opportunity to work directly with a rural community has been an invaluable experience for the students and they have gained numerous transferable skills, from dealing with statutory bodies, to managing time and cost, as well as actually constructing one of their own designs.
“Projects of this nature are incredibly hard work, but immensely rewarding for all involved. The students demonstrated a real commitment to, and enthusiasm for the Warm Room and worked in all weathers to ensure it’s successful completion.”
Pippa Ramsay, one of the students involved said; “The project in Kielder gave a unique opportunity to get involved with every aspect of design. It is rare that architects get to build their own buildings. This was an incredible experience which had taught me to appreciate and enjoy the different sides to architecture.”
Student Phil Morris added; “Having the opportunity to design and self-build a piece of real architecture from sketch to completion is an unusual accolade for any architect, it has been a fantastic achievement and seeing the space being used and improve the site is very rewarding.”
The Warm Room is part of the wider *Animating Dark Skies programme, which is supported by The Rural Development Programme for England, for which DEFRA is the Managing Authority, part financed by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.