Space Architecture

Space Architecture

The need for involving architects in the design of buildings in space stems from the push to extend space mission durations and address the needs of astronauts during the space race of the 1960’s and 70’s. This role is likely to be significantly expanded as the current drive towards space tourism becomes a reality.

There has been a considerable increase in “ordinary” people wanting to go into space in recent years and although the space tourism industry is only in its infancy; within the next decade we believe such trips will become second nature. Companies are already well advanced in the design of spacecraft for such missions, for instance Virgin Galactic has already collected its $200,000 shuttle fee from many of their first passengers on their commercial spaceship. The next logical step is to develop space hotels for the space tourists to stay and several companies have already begun exploring the possibilities of developing such buildings.

The development of buildings in space is likely to be the complete antithesis of developing on earth. Imagine no planning laws, no boundary disputes, no foundation issues and no contamination. Nevertheless, building in space will have its own problems such as getting the materials into space, radiation, dealing with zero gravity (muscle wastage), space debris, energy sources, the internal environment stabilisation etc.

The very first space hotels will probably comprise no more than clusters of small pre-fabricated modules similar to the international space station. Nevertheless, in zero G there's surprising scope for design. For example, bedroom corridors could become 3 dimensional pathways allowing the visitor to move along the walls ceiling or floors. Guests in the Zero G bar might not even notice the other users of the room - until they looked up "above" them! 3D space therefore becomes fully useable.

Simple ergonomics would be the same whether designing for space or on the earth. Although in weightlessness situations as almost any 3 Dimensional shape doesn’t collapse under its own weight (so long as the structure is strong enough to support an internal pressure of one atmosphere - just a bit stronger than a modern aeroplane) all manner of possible configurations of building are possible. Apart from budgetary constraints, this gives a relatively blank canvas for the designers allowing imaginations to flow.

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