Allotment projects #1: Observatory - never stop dreaming

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Blog entry by mafe posted 10-15-2021 11:37 AM 1549 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Allotment projects series Part 2: Observatory - let’s reach for the stars! »

the sky is the limit!

I have passed the famous fifty, but the child in me never left.
One thing I never got to build as an architect, was a tower, one thing I dreamed of as a boy was a tower or a tree hut and I loved to lay on my back and watch the stars late at night – well it’s never too late and yes the sky is the limit.
Well not really the sky, as the regulations at the allotment house areas building code says 3,5 meter max height, smiles.
But that can’t stop me from dreaming and at the end of the day, it was all about being able to see the beautiful fields and forest that surrounds our allotment area, getting to see the horizon at day time from the garden, the stars and moon at night and finally adding some magic and MaFe to the house, as well as having fun doing it.

An allotment house is kind of a tiny house on a tiny plot, something we have a tradition for in Denmark.

As often the idea started in my head, then a few sketches in my sketchbook, to make it visual, trying to give it a form and to see if it will work as a concept. This was last year and it stayed in my thoughts and grew there, until this summer, where I found it was time to realize this dream.
The main challenge was the fact, that I could only add little extra height to the house, while I still wanted it to be possible to sit two up there, with a cup of coffee, or when watching the stars and so I decided to take up the challenge of making it as minimal as possible and that the feet should hang freely, when one was up there.
Also I decided to put it over my allotment workshop, for one it will help build draft for the whole house, when it’s hot in the summer, by opening the roof a little. But also because at this place it would not disturb any neighbours, even though I did talk to the next door neighbours and offered them, to completely blind the sides facing them, but both said they just found it fun and that it was no problem.

Here the house when I got it two years ago.

And here at the beginning of this summer, after I have spend quite some time restoring it and giving it newly restored 100 years old windows.

Ohhhhh yes and as usual recycle and low cost is also a factor.
So we start here buying one sheet of 12mm facade plywood and one sheet of 22mm roofing plywood.

As well as a few roof rafters, as I had a few at the house.
All put on the roof of my tiny car and brought to the allotment.

Next up, being the vintage architect, using pen and paper to calculate and draw the roof and finishing up, by making a small paper model.
I wanted it to be build the roof from one sheet plywood, so it was a matter of getting the most of it, this would also determine the size of the observatory, as long as it did not get too small.

The sheet of floor ply was put in my conservatory.

As you can see the roof got a minimal slope, this is to give as much hight inside, while still staying under the 3,5meter regulation, also the house has roofs with low slope, so it will fit right in.

Now the drawing could be transferred to reality and as you can see it was a tight fit, with minimal waste.

Two saw kerfs were calculated into the layout, so it should all be fine.
A little smaller observatory, than I first thought, but found that it will be able to be two normal size people next to each other, or otherwise one at the time. I’m happy with that and it will keep me slim. Laughs.

Saw time!
Love that cordless Makita, I made a sled for it, so it can run on my Festool tracks, here with an angle on the cuts also.

Test fit.
It fits perfect so I were a happy monkey.

In the afternoon a quick small sketch, painting my dream, to explain a friend about the project.

Getting all the tools out of the workshop.

Setting up an outdoor workshop, for the next couple of days, with my generator, as I am off grid and my solar system only supports 700 watt units.
You can see I already build two frames.

The frames were connected, so I got this cube, that will be the heart of the observatory.


Support for the roof centre.
Yell see the underside of the roof later.

Wathing… the grass grow.
No just testing if the size is ok and at what height the bench will be.
As I said a little more narrow than I originally had thought, but it will be cosy place now, with plenty of room when alone.

Roof centre support, from scrap.

Another shopping tour and I’m ready to start building.

Alu profiles glued with asphalt and nailed.

Roofing put on.

Cheers, kind of a milestone and it started raining just as I finished the roof.

So the little house will have to wait for tomorrow.

Painting the frame and underside of roof.

It’s easier done now.

The inside of the roof, almost a Japanese feel to it now…

Here we are at the workshop door.
This is where I want the observatory, at the centre of the house, over the door.

But I need to go away a few days, then we can continue.

I’m back!
Forgot to tell, I found a ladder in the trash in Copenhagen, fits the project perfectly well.
You cann se the workshop is not insulated, so it’s easy to get access to the roof.
Also notice, I put two new beams in, to support the observatory.

Tear down the wall!!!
Roof MaFe, don’t get so exited…

Let there be light he said!
Since I’m an atheist he must be me.

Cut away a few roof rafters.

Amazing so many tools you can use for such a simple job…
I had to cut the plates down a wee bit also afterwards, as the observatory cube were bigger than the hole. It was easily done with an angle grinder and a diamond disc, the black part of the roof is not asbestos, so no worry to cut it, but the brown / red is, so this will be untouched.

On the ground I prepared the hinges for the roof.
While wondering, how I would ever get it all up there…

If you want to eat an elephant, eat it in small bites, it makes the job a lot easier.
So first I moved the frame up, it was a wee difficult alone, but manageable.
Now you know why I kept it simple.
I love the look of this red cube sticking out the roof.

From the street.
I’m happy, it’s not dominating at all.

I had put these metal brackets temporary on the new beams, to support it, while I hoisted it down.

The beams were then adjusted to place, screwed to the house and the cube were screwed to the beams and cross beams mounted.
Now it will need more than two people, snow and storm to move.

Cross beam.

I smile, big time.

The whole construction.

Just climbed down the ladder…

Because I got the roof up!
It was hell and I should not had carried it up alone, but it’s there.
I put it on my head and climbed up a ladder, with no hands free and with a miracle did not fall down – that was plain stupid and I had neck pains for several days after (I’m retired with spinal neck injury, so really stupid).
There were no to find to help me and I were so impatient, promise not to do such a stupid thing again though.

A happy monkey.

So I made it a little topping-out decoration.
The side beams are to test some heights, for the roof and windows.

Then I could clear up for the day and go and invite a few guests for a topping-out ceremony.

First guest in the tower.
Her first reply was ‘it’s like being captain on a ship’.

Then champagne.

Here me on the roof, photographing the first two in the observatory, the could report, that there were plenty of room for two, so I were really pleased.
Also they loved the view and to be up there in general.

More guests, some even brought presents.

Some climbing the roof.
I loved how everyone became children and full of joy.

Another guest and more champagne, hope I don’t fall down at the end of the day.

At sunset, it really became clear how wonderful the view is and yes there are ship like feeling to it.

Kissing the sun goodnight, today with a big smile.

In the early night watching the moon.

And the last rays of light in the horizon, then time to say goodnight.

The morning light and all it’s glory.

Good morning observatory.
Here you can see the supporting structure I made inside the cube, to make a frame for the windows, a support for facade panels and to stabilize.
Also fixed it to the existing roof structure, for wind stability.

Facade panels being cut, they are really cute.

More guests, the kids here loved the observatory, but also the water hose, so I got a big laugh and got really wet.

Now we have taken a jump a few days ahead in time, as I forgot to photograph, while I made the roof around the observatory, this because it was new to me, so I were really into it and completely focused.
And also I painted the panels first layer, before mounting them.

Second layer of paint, while the guests were still there.

So they send me these pictures of the happy monkey working.

So this is where we end for now, I personally think it adds charm to the house and at the same time it’s not stealing the show, so I’m more than pleased and look forward to share the rest with you.

Hope it can be to some inspiration, or at least, making some remember the sky is the limit.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

12 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8810 posts in 1869 days

#1 posted 10-15-2021 12:30 PM

What a wonderful project, Mads, though I’m sorry you injured your back/neck carrying the roof up. It should be a great view from up there, and a lovely place to enjoy sunrises and sunsets, and it should help with ventilation on hot days, as well. Marvelous!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleDD's profile


10801 posts in 3330 days

#2 posted 10-15-2021 01:02 PM

Gazing at the sky can bring out the best of your inner self. There is no constriction around you and the mind has freedom. I catch myself looking at the sky quite often. It’s a great place for you to relax and enjoy the world.
I enjoyed your journey and looking forward to the completion.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27002 posts in 4392 days

#3 posted 10-15-2021 01:27 PM

It is nice to be able make you dreams a reality like that. I know what you mean about wanting to get ti done with no help around. You strain yourself to finish it but you “get ‘er done” Larry the Cable guy would say!!

Cheers, my friend…................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View HokieKen's profile (online now)


19900 posts in 2425 days

#4 posted 10-15-2021 01:27 PM

This is fantastic Mads. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it much for many years to come :-))

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View lew's profile


13442 posts in 5042 days

#5 posted 10-15-2021 03:19 PM

Thanks, Mads, for the wonderful walk along with your build. I am always inspired by your designs and thinking process.

Please take care of your back and neck. That injury is not something to chance more damage.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View splintergroup's profile


6043 posts in 2509 days

#6 posted 10-15-2021 04:01 PM

Wow! That makes me tired 8^)

Always surprises when cutting into a roof like that. You took your dream past the finish line, well done!

View madts's profile


1959 posts in 3626 days

#7 posted 10-15-2021 06:27 PM

Tillykke Mads.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Brit's profile


8457 posts in 4129 days

#8 posted 10-15-2021 10:09 PM

I really love the idea of this Mads. Good for you my friend. Looking at the last photo, I would think it could double as a great place to do puppet shows for the children, like Punch and Judy (not sure if you will know these famous puppets or not in Denmark).

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View oldnovice's profile


7757 posts in 4654 days

#9 posted 10-16-2021 02:41 AM

Love it and I am sure you will enjoy it for a long time.
That looked like a lot of work but when you build what YOU want it’s not really that hard.

To do that here I would need permits, environmental impact statement, engineering review, and hire an approved builder!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1385 posts in 3000 days

#10 posted 10-16-2021 03:28 PM

Fun to see the process now that I have seen – and tested – the final result. That drawing board brings back memories, had one like that when i did my toolmaking education

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8348 posts in 4639 days

#11 posted 10-17-2021 03:52 AM

I can see that little kid excitement on your face! I love this and I smiled all the way to the end of your post!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View mafe's profile


13405 posts in 4376 days

#12 posted 10-18-2021 04:44 PM

Hi guys’n (of all genders),

Dave Polaschek, Thank you Dave. My neck was fine after a few weeks of recover, just really stupid og me. I have already enjoyed it almost every evening, when I’m there, so see the sun set. I’m a stay up late guy, so seldom I see it rise, but did it one morning and really enjoyed sitting there, while the sky brightened up. It really works with the ventilation, I can make a draft from the other end of the house, but to make it effective, I would need to air tighten the workshop. For the workshop it really makes a difference.

doubleDD, Yes to just be there, forget time and gaze, those moments are sweet and healing. I have a strong need also for horizon, to be able to see that, this makes me calm. See you. ;-)

Jim Jakosh, The dreams that are manageable, should come through, somehow life is all about this, to be able to dream, to create the dreams and to let go of what was not meant to be. Cheers from Mads Larry. Smiles.

HokieKen, Big smile here, looking at your avatar and the word fantastic, thanks.

Lew, I almost promise to never do stupid things like that again… Smiles. Thank you for your always big kindness.

splintergroup, Big laugh!!! Keep dreaming and grab a beer then.

Madts, Tusind tak, stort smil.

Brit, Yes I used to love the puppet theater, I can easy imagine this. Thanks.

oldnovice, I enjoyed building it, that was the most important, but yes I enjoy it now also and hope even after, that new families will enjoy and perhaps even kids will have it, as their secret place. It really were a lot of work, it took all my time for a good while, but I were taken away, so it was just wonderful being one with this project, as it slowly became real. Her in allotments we only have to write the board and they have to give it a go. Some of the negative people, did try to question if it was too high and if I was given permission. I could respond, that yes I had the permission and I build it three inches lower, than allowed, just because I were sure someone would make a fuss. ;-)

kaerlighedsbamsen, Hi Ty, it was so nice to have you there and to feel you could also be a child, there with me. I will soon post the door project, that you helped me realize. I miss drawing the old school way, I loved it, back at the school, where I studied to become Constructing Architect and later a little at the Building Architect school, actually hand draw, mt final project, to everyones surprice and joy.

woodshaver Tony C, What you see is exactly what I feel and the mood I were in building it. A total focus, like just kids can have and a completely absence of time and place, just pure being – combined with a child like joy and impatience. It was really a joy and will stay like that in my memory. So happy and it warms my heart, that you were smiling with me, thanks.

Best thoughts and a big smile,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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