Paul King | Freelance Architect

EarthSky Tekapo

Project: EarthSky Visitor Centre, Tekapo

Client: Sheppard & Rout Architects

A proposal for a new observatory visitor centre for the township of Tekapo, capturing passing tourists and providing experiences linking to and inspiring nighttime visits to the nearby Mt John Observatory.  This needed to be prepared (as usual) with a crazy short time frame and a crazy low budget.

My role was to take a ‘quick n dirty’ raw building model, tidy it up,  populate and dress the scene with lights, furniture, people, animated displays etc and most importantly recreate a compelling sense of the expansive Lake Tekapo natural context.  This I felt would be best achieved by use of a huge terrain model (patched together with artistic license from free sources of scanned topographical data I discovered online).  Of necessity, the result had to be impressionistic rather than realistic, but it was received very well, by all accounts exceeding the developer group’s expectations.

The opening sequence cheekily exploited Google earth technology (and a lot of behind the scenes tinkering) to segue down from an astronomical context to the earth-bound point of observation.

The project went ahead (in a somewhat value-engineered form)  and the centre is now complete and operating very successfully by all accounts.