Out-of-this-world design for Sydney Observatory


When an amateur astronomer decides to use Shipping container building to reach for the stars and build his own personal observatory about 50km north of Sydney, he chose Containers First’s shipping container modification team to design, fabricate and install the unique structure.

  • Main Structure: 20-foot shipping container
  • Finished Dimensions: 9.2m X 4.8m X 2.9m (excluding dome)
  • 2.6m extension built from scratch to house telescope
  • All other additions fully fabricated at Containers First Workshop
  • Sliding glass door and windows, with flyscreens
  • Plumbed room ready for upgrade to wet room
  • Kitchenette
  • All rooms fully insulated
  • Full data cabling for telescope
  • Dimmer-controlled down lights throughout
  • Rolled angle to operate observatory dome
  • Squared round roofing for rainwater run-off
  • Interior mezzanine level access to telescope platform
  • Interior storage space
  • Full length veranda with staircase access
  • Lightweight roof truss design for transportability
  • Bull nose roofing and guttering fitted on-site
  • Main room floor carpeting

For this Shipping container building start with a standard 20-foot (6-metre) shipping container, Containers First added an elevated extension to house the telescope and dome, and fabricated many other modifications to create a spacious and comfortable observatory. 

The star-gazing structure includes windows, dimmable lighting and a sliding glass door, a large workstation with cabinetry, a kitchenette, storage, interior access to the elevated motorised telescope room, and a wrap-around exterior deck complete with a rainwater gutter system and stylishly finished with bullnose roofing.

To house the precision optical equipment, the Containers First Workshop’s fabrication had to be equally precise for the hinged dome to rotate properly.

Containers First also wired the observatory for electrical power and data, and included a fully plumbed room ready for future use. The observatory is also fully insulated from floor to ceiling to ensure comfort all year round.

While Containers First were content with the design and manufacture of this amazing observatory their expertise was truly exposed when they coordinated the delivery and installation of the observatory. Requiring custom fabricated supports to perch the containers on the side of a hill, specialised transport for the 40km journey to the site and lifting equipment all of which needed to fit through a gap with only millimetres to spare. The installation was precise, on time and under budget.

Our astronomer couldn’t be happier with the observatory and is counting his lucky stars he chose Containers First and the “freedom” a modular shipping container design provided him. Containers First is equally thrilled with their first-ever observatory design/build and rates it as one of the Sydney company’s stellar achievements in custom shipping container modifications.

Shipping container building

Shipping container building

Shipping container building

Shipping container building

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