Designed by Studio Malka Architecture, the Cheops Observatory sits on the plateau of the Giza necropolis, offering views of the nearby landmarks.
An artist’s residence and observatory located in the village of Nazlet el Samman has been designed to perfectly align with views of the Pyramid of Khufu — or the Great Pyramid of Cheops — the oldest, largest pyramid in Egypt. Aptly named Cheops Observatory, the centre, by French firm Studio Malka Architecture, consists of a series of spaces, including a garden, swimming pool and a ‘time room’, all of which are oriented to offer spectacular views of the pyramid.
The facades consist of a combination of raw earth bricks and recycled traditional windows and shutters (sourced from the local village), while the crowning features a triangular tent handcrafted by a tribe living in the Giza desert. According to the studio, a vertical stratification inscribes this architecture in a temporal process linking the vernacular, contemporary and nomad in one.
“The architecture, with variable geometry, allows both specific or integral protection systems, effective against sun rays, as well as optimal air-cooling flow on the levels,” the architects said.
The Time Room is meant to be used for meditative observation. The textile roof folds and unfolds quickly, depending on the season, creating an open, covered or uncovered room. A specific wooden framework with pyramidal truss and radiating lines was designed, allowing to double the height under the ceiling.
“This triangular shape creates an aspiration,” the architects said. “A three-dimensional portal in a greater-than-life anamorphosis that frames the Great Pyramid of Giza.”
They added, “Connected to the elements, this architecture opens without artifices, bays, glazing or other dividers, [establishing a] vivid relationship with its environment, generating a hypercontextual space, sensory and porous.”