Monday, December 8, 2014

CORAL CASTLE : An Outdoor Observatory

The first time I visited Coral Castle was New Years Day 2014 and I knew I had to come back and take a closer look at this 'Unusual Accomplishment'. It is one of the most authentic tourist attractions along Route 1 just one hour south of Miami. 


Coral Castle was designed and built by Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin between 1920 to 1951.  He cut and raised the walls from the Coral bedrock on site where it stands today. Most of the carved rocks/furniture inside the Castle were made at its original location in Florida City and moved here by Ed and a friend with a tractor in 1936.


What I find particularly interesting about his home is that it also functions as an outdoor observatory used for viewing, recording and documenting terrestrial and celestial events, many of the rock chairs face specific directions and many are designed so you can look up at the sky easily.


In front of 'The Planets' sits an assortment of chairs, each weighing approximately 1,000#. The absence of chisel marks gives the appearance of natural growth.


I focused my research on the ‘Polaris Telescope’ and ‘The Sundial’ as well as documenting via scanning the 'Three Ton Gate' which pivots effortlessly being perfectly balanced on the axle of a model T Ford since 1936.


Ed Leedskalnin wrote three books on magnetic current and it is believed by some that he used this technology in order to move the stones.


Gravity has always been an obvious challenge as a sculptor so the idea of moving multi ton blocks with magnetic current is very intriguing. I took scans of the 'Three Ton Gate' Coral Rock and am working on the concept of a levitating sculpture.This is a theme I have addressed before in 'Lodestone' using cast copper and aluminum.

There are two components to the ‘Polaris Telescope’ the outer part is a 25ft tall tower, with the aligning eye piece located 20 ft away inside the castle grounds.

 At night when the sets of crossed wires in the inner and outer pieces are aligned one can see and track the North Star. 

By making these scans and 3d models within the computer it allows me to examine the texture of the Coral rocks as well as to experience them differently opening up exciting new possibilities. This is the aerial view of the 25ft Polaris Tower.

I am not interested in simply replicating the objects that Ed Leedskalnin has made but to know and understand them better for translation.


Below are the raw texture maps created by the 3D model.


By using his Polaris Telescope Ed could study and record the path the earth travels which enabled him to obtain the data to build his sundial.

The numbered loops on the sundial represent hours, the unnumbered loops are half hours. The shadow cast by the metal indicator on the coral block above points to the time.

I would like to give a special thanks to The Sun for shining during both visits!


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