‘Ocularium’ is the re imagination of the typology of a planetarium, reconfigured to align with our understanding of the universe and the architectural forms it reveals.
Positioned on the Meridian Line, the historical basis for our understanding of time and how we choose to position ourselves in the universe, the proposal extends beyond the static monuments at Humberston, The Thames and Peacehaven. It is an intervention that gives this historical ‘time line’, an otherwise intellectual and commerce boundary, an inhabitable thickness that extrudes into a semi-dome containing an auditorium for explorers to witness and engage with the cosmos.
Ocularium is centred both physically and culturally as a platform for research, education and inspiration. Accessible and unique, a walkway extends the pier to witness the wonders of the universe unobstructed by the conflicting lights of cities and utilises the surrounding environment as a mirror of the galaxy visible from the walkway. An exhibition staircase lined with photographs of static moments highlight the vast time discrepancies between our world and those beyond, and prepare Earthly cosmonauts for entry into the suspended vessel. The astronomical journey continues to spiral within the thickness of the Ocularium, encrusted with textures and scents mimicking neighbouring planets to educate and simulate conditions in alternative worlds while tracing the circular movement of the solar system.
This circular movement is reproduced by a telescope travelling about the perimeter of the form, projecting images directly onto the curved concrete surface divided into the net of the globe. It is controlled from the lectern, a monument to education positioned at the centre of the auditorium, like the sun, and framed by circles of seating radiating from it. The auditorium exists as an inverted dome, deliberately challenging the capped enclosure of the typical planetarium. Open to the sky and the universe, the Ocularium presents an immersive planetary experience without excluding our own; it is an object of projection, observation and education. A platform and opportunity for communication and knowledge, to elevate science literacy at this present time of cosmic exploration and inhabitation.
Imagine: zooming into Neptune as the rain falls gently onto your shoulders.
Imagine: brushing your hands past Mars on your way to Jupiter.
Imagine: leaving earth to witness the universe from the walkway in the water’s reflection.
Imagine: unobstructed views of the night sky from Earth.
Imagine: the reflection of the sun in the auditorium during the day.
Imagine: hearing a lecture during your visit to the Ocularium.