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In close collaboration with the main project design consultant, DCB, and landscape designers, Russell Associates, David Harber was asked to create a series of monumental sculptural installations to grace the courtyards of Qatar's Cultural Village in Katara.
These significant pieces, positioned close to a new planetarium, take a strong scientific and astronomical approach, referencing the great scientific advances in Arabian history.
This piece is a faithful representation of an ancient Arabian scientific instrument. The forerunner of the seafarer"s sextant, the astrolabe was also an early means of accurately determining the time for prayer. The main elements of the astrolabe include a bronze support ring, which is two metres in diameter. A central plate with etched glass, lit from the edges, is suspended from the support ring. It can be gently rotated by hand in order to align and adjust the outer ring. Embracing the astrolabe is a ring of bronze with a skin of water constantly flowing over it.
This ethereal piece looks heavenward, as if to glorify the splendour of the universe. A fusion of the armillary sphere and a fully-functioning orrery, the sculpture is an accurate working model of the solar system with the sun at its centre and nine surrounding planets — both educational and beautiful to behold. The observer can enjoy interacting with the piece, as if controlling the mechanics of outer space.
This sphere exists on a grand scale, four metres in diameter, and is intended to invite all to walk into it. Once inside the armillary, the viewer can read the time at close quarters, sharing a wonderful sense of magic as the minutes pass by and shadows shift imperceptibly.