The experience of awe is most heightened when in isolation from the common, particularly when faced simultaneously with nature’s vastness.
The Verge is located on the peak of Mount Everest, the furthest point from humanity’s existence to the dome of space. In other words, it is the threshold between earth and heaven, where “the roof of the world touches the sky”. Sited in Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park, the proposal for this new planetarium is situated in one of the world’s best stargazing sites.
In terms of the concept, the form of our proposed planetarium was inspired by mountain folds. The structure is an extension of the mountain, whose geometry was generated with a script reading the planar surfaces of the mountain face. It is embedded within the mountain to signify its solidarity with it.
Another important aspect was the idea of a pilgrimage, particularly for the public visitors. No one can doubt the importance of Mount Everest as a destination point – which has been utilized by the circulation. A series of ramps encircles upwards the planetarium, mimicking the ascent of climbing. More importantly, the ascension through these ramps tells the story of space technology.
At the beginning of this story is a gallery exhibition showcasing building typologies (such as ziggurats), astronomers, and the historical attempts to understand the universe. It demonstrates how our ancestors have always had an infinity with space and almost an inclination to believe in a higher power.
As we continue our story, Level 2 introduces the development of space technologies and is an interactive centre. It engages the visitor with an indoor projected planetarium, and additionally provides research demonstration rooms. This is a level for virtual experience – a play room.
Nearing the top of the room is a private research facility on Level 3. This is a secluded area for investigative work into space, which is connected to the telescope room above it. It represents the present understanding of space.
At the peak is a breathtaking space for viewing the vast night sky – the final destination point for the traveler. It allows for a truly unique physical experience of space, where the visitor is the closest one can reach to space. The design programme for this floor is, at the same time, geared for research in space. One of the main features is the inclusion of a 15 m diameter telescope at the roof of the structure, and the potential for future expansion of research rooms.
In conclusion, the Verge is a visionary new planetarium space that describes the story of our fascination, development, and continued affinity with space. It is told through the ascension of the building, leading into a solitary and sublime observatory at its peak.