“in downtown New Delhi, huge curved structures sink in the ground, taking the form of a ramp. Amorphous voids mark the great twisted walls. The color red marks the structures and sets them apart from everything else.”
This could describe a playground or even a skate park, but it is one of five astronomical observatories built in India between 1724 and 1738. These mazy volumes, which look more like a materialization of Escher‘s drawings, were conceived by the Indian prince Jai Singh as part of an ambitious project that sought to put architecture at the service of science. Their shapes make complex astronomical analysis possible, such as predicting eclipses, tracking the location of stars, and determining Earth’s exact orbit around the Sun.