Year: 2017
Clients: Certain Measures
Project Team: Andrew Witt, Tobias Nolte, Olivia Heung

A speculative design fiction with basis in fact, the Glacier Observatory is a constellation of outposts, an anchor shelter for humans and a halo of orbiting satellite buildings for machines. The structures of the Glacier Observatory are architectural eyes and ears. Their skin is a sensing skin. The parallel planes of their structure reflect, in miniature, the endless sheets of ice of the glacier itself, but also channel, amplify, and reflect acoustic and optical waves, like lenses. The cameras of the Observatory are augmented by real time machine vision and cameras which sense the internal structures of the ice as it heaves and flows.

When polarized light passes through melting crystals, bizarre miniature continents constantly appear and disappear in same iridescent palette as a synthetic liquid crystal. Through optical processes of polarized light we can trace the transformations of micro crystals and air bubbles in the matrix of the glacier as it changes state to liquid. In fact they are a peculiar kind of stained glass. “The mountain ranges are sliced into. Colored glass is inserted into the peaks. Glass ornaments float on dazzling mountain lakes.” (Leslie, Esther. “Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Fluid Form.” Chicago: University of Chicago, 2016.)