Pedro Barata turns shipping container into giant periscope

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Pedro Barata transforms shipping container into "world's biggest periscope"

Architectural firm Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados has created a 12-metre-tall periscope in Brazil using a shipping container stood on its end.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

The Superiscope – described by the architects as the world's biggest periscope – offers visitors views across Lagoa Santa, a lagoon that gives its name to the Brazilian city it is located beside.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

The giant instrument's shell is made from the corrugated steel exterior of a shipping container. Inside, two large mirrors are attached to an MDF framework and set at a 45-degree angle at the top and bottom of the structure. Light reflected off the pair of mirrors allows a viewer at the bottom to see the image framed at the top.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

"That's kind of the beauty of it: the container as a ready-made periscope," Barata told Dezeen. "Just like making one out of a milk carton package when we were kids."

The interior of the container and the supporting internal wooden framework have been painted black, and a rectangular aperture at the bottom of the structure lets visitors gaze at a reflected view over the nearby lagoon.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

The structure took just over a month to design and assemble, and the studio made several rough simulations on site to guarantee the view would be unspoiled by nearby trees or buildings.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

"People react to it as a toy, gathering around to share the 'magic' of being able to see the lagoon at their eye-sight," the architect told Dezeen.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

"There's always someone peeking through the vertical tunnel, trying to understand the 'technology' allowing them to do so. By connecting directly two different and faraway spaces, the Superiscope introduces people to architecture as hypertext," he added.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

The structure will remain in place until November 2015, and Barata is currently seeking a potential new home for it to travel to afterwards.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

Pedro Barata founded his architectural practice in 2004, and now has offices in both Brazil and Portugal. He teaches at Izabela Hendrix Faculty, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and has shown work at the Lisbon Architecture Triennial and the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

A "huge democratic periscope" is also included in Danish firm BIG's winning design for a new town hall in Tallinn, Estonia, which would allow passersby to see politicians at work in the council chamber.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados

Other examples of architects' ongoing fascination with shipping containers include skyscrapers, tech incubators and low-cost workspaces – which are all collected onto our newly created dedicated Pinterest board.

Photography is by Osvaldo Castro and Fábio Cansado.

Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados
Axonometric diagrams – click for larger image
Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados
Site plan – click for larger image
Superiscope by Pedro Barata e Arquitetos Associados
Sections – click for larger image