By Yiannis Kourtoglou

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AGRIDIA, Cyprus – A new space observatory in Cyprus looks like it just appeared on the set of a science fiction movie and is ready for launch.

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High on the Troodos Mountains in the centre of the island and offering unobstructed views of the sky, the €1.77 million public Troodos Observatory opened in May. Providers hope the project will encourage visitors to explore areas increasingly affected by urbanisation and increase a deeper understanding of the sky.

It was designed by science fiction enthusiasts, architects and siblings Elena, Nicodemos and Cassandra Tsolakis. The resemblance to a spaceship was not intentional, but the nature of the project instinctively and perceptively evokes that impression, says Elena Tsolakis.

“Yes, from some angles the building may look like a spaceship. Was that the intention? No, but that’s what it has become,” said Elena Tsolakis.

If you blink you’ll miss it.

Thanks to the reflective cladding, the angular structure overlooking the hamlet of Agridia can be invisible and blend seamlessly into the terrain or sky, depending on the viewing angle.

“Part of our brief and our main goal was to create an iconic building for the region and we believe we have succeeded in that,” said Nicodemos Tsolakis.

The observatory, part of the EU-backed Geostars project to revitalise remote rural areas in parts of Cyprus and Greece, is equipped with a 20-inch reflecting telescope, the largest on the island, under a 5.6m-wide rotating dome and a solar telescope under a hydraulic roof.

Elena Tsolakis, recently named one of the 100 most influential female architects in the world by the Royal Institute of British Architects, said that every public space should tell a story and offer visitors a unique experience.

“What we’re trying to create is that sense of wonder, especially in children, that sense of wonder and curiosity and the desire to learn more about the world beyond the mundane existence that we have,” she said.

A protruding projection that can be used as an astromarina for mobile telescopes appears to emerge from the earth; part of the structure is embedded in the mountain.

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