Fancy a Night in the UK’s Most Luxurious Observatory?

Few sights capture the imagination like a star-filled sky. Here to put adventure-seekers in the box seat for taking in thrilling skyscapes, is an ingeniously built pop-up cabin in Wales. This is the story of how an ambitious SOLIDWORKS design made it to the UK’s television sets in the form of SkyHut.

There’s nothing quite like gazing up at the night sky to find an unfathomably deep sea of stars blinking back at you. For that, it’s a good idea to escape the light pollution of towns and cities and beeline for Wales. Because Wales is a country with the highest percentage of sky in the world designated as International Dark Sky. Oh, and it’s also home to a building that provides what is surely the most immersive stargazing experience in the world.

Introducing SkyHut…

SkyHut, designed by architects Waind Gohil + Potter, is a self-contained boutique hotel room, like no other. At the touch of a button, its roof can be completely opened up to reveal a stunning snapshot of the sky.

The structure was built as part of an international competition to design a luxury mobile pop-up holiday cabin inspired by Wales. The best eight cabins have been combined to create a stunning pop-up glamping hotel.

Such was the architectural endeavour on display, that the UK’s Channel 4 turned the competition into a television programme: Cabins in the Wild with Dick Strawbridge (yep, him from  Scrapheap Challenge). SkyHut provides a theatrical platform like no other – and there’s some remarkable engineering behind it.

Raising the roof…

SkyHut has some serious style inside. All warm lighting and sleek Scandinavian lines. But there’s no doubt that its most defining feature is the remarkable roof, which lifts to reveal an uninterrupted view of the sky. Of course, raising the roof poses some tough engineering challenges. To mastermind them, product developers extraordinaire PipSqueak were called upon.

Their challenge was to make the roof open in such a way that the view of the sky was limitless, with no part of the structure blocking the view. PipSqueak opted to create a tensioned-skin structure and a mechanism that could move the entire load of the roof from just one end of the cabin – the rear wall.

This would ensure the actuators that propelled the roof toward the night sky were out of the dwellers’ line of sight, providing that unencumbered view that makes SkyHut so special. The geared cable system that controls the roof was inspired by sailing technology.

How did SOLIDWORKS help?

As 3D CAD experts, SOLIDWORKS is one of the first tools the designers at PipSqueak reach for when it comes to a new project. In this case, SOLIDWORKS allowed PipSqueak to calculate the roof’s exact weight and simulate movement and load-bearing capabilities. The actuators were then made to order and the correct components for the job were bang on the money at the first time of asking. No expensive physical prototyping, everything was completed right there in SOLIDWORKS.

See for yourself…

You know what they say. Seeing is believing. SkyHut – along with the other seven winning cabins – is available to stay in this summer at locations across Wales. Get in quick for a night of stargazing you will never forget.

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.