In Space, No-one Can Hear You…Build?
While we often speculate as to the upcoming UK hotspots for developers, focussing on the commuter belt, the renaissance of the coastal town, the seclusion of the countryside and the hubbub of the city, some architectural visionaries are looking at a location slightly further afield – you might even say somewhere slightly alienated!
Co-founder of SAGA, architect Sebastian Aristotelis has taken a starry-eyed approach to his profession, setting his sights on space architecture. Financial Times have profiled the visionary, covering his adventurous simulation of a potentially space-suitable structure in Greenland.
Such is the rate of progress in the realm of technology and space travel (it doesn’t hurt that two of the world’s wealthiest men are taking their rivalry to the stars), the notion of colonising the moon or mars is becoming increasingly plausible.
Which is why Aristotelis is one of a small number of space architects investigating the practicality of building in the cosmos.
Aristotelis’ experiment in the Arctic involved spending two months in a specially designed tent with a colleague, replicating as closely as possible on Earth the conditions that would need to be withstood in space, including practical considerations, such as the need for flexible building seams in incredibly sub-zero conditions, as well as psychological measures, such as creating a custom lighting system to mimic sunrise and sunset during prolonged spells of darkness – something Aristotelis points out could be used in high-density cities with light-poor apartments.
Aristotelis has fans in high places, too. Brent Sherwood is the Senior VP of advanced development programmes for Jeff Bezos-founded Blue Origin, the company behind the Orbital Reef commercial space station, and who championed the Copenhagen-based architect’s innovation. Sherwood also shuts down the imagery that may immediately come to mind when one thinks of space accommodation – domed glass structures being a particular favourite of low budget sci-fi series. Reason being, there are issues of atmospheric pressure and toxicity in these otherworldly environs that mean mass is more important than a cool aesthetic.
Psychologists and interior designers will also play a major role in pushing forward space homes, with certain cognitive influences being vital to mental wellbeing in unfamiliar surroundings. While windows may not always be practical, digital panels that recreate windows and the outside environment can serve the same purpose.
Sceptics will point to the failed 1991 biosphere experiment documented in the 2020 film Spaceship Earth and even Ridley Scott’s sci-fi The Martian as warnings of the dangers associated with setting up vivariums on other planet, though the allure of interstellar settlements is likely to only grow in line with commercial space travel.
So, when you’re next submitting plans for a development along the Norfolk Broads, it may be worth considering whether the double-glazed windows would keep out the abrasive moon dust or support life on Mars.