Tutors: Alessandro Ayuso, Ro Spankie, Diony Kypraiou, Matt Haycocks, Allan Sylvester
Alessandro Ayuso’s research explores the intersection of bodies and architecture. His work on ‘Body Agents’ was pursued through his PhD by Design. This year he is leading the Parallel Cities workshop: a collaboration between Westminster University and Pratt Institute in New York.
Diony Kypraiou is an architect and researcher. Her work deploys practices of drawing, writing, and installation design as investigatory tools to explore analogies between architecture, dramaturgy, psychoanalysis, and storytelling.
Ro Spankie is Principle Lecturer and Course Leader of the BA Interior Architecture. Fascinated by the role of the drawing in the design process, she has exhibited and published work internationally related to the interior. She is Associate Editor of the journal, Interiors: Design/Architecture/Culture
Allan Sylvester, Visiting Lecturer, practicing architect, and founding partner of Ullmayer Sylvester Architects, which is design led, and multidisciplinary collaborative practice.
Brief 1: The Lust for Outer Space
The moon was this, a habitable world, inhabited before the earth. The moon is that a world uninhabitable, and now uninhabited. (Jules Verne, Round The Moon, 1870, p. 447)
The desire to travel to outer space, make a stop to Mars or explore the icy moon of Enceladus as a voyager that catches the rare alignment of planets, has been feeding the human soul with the ambition that the moment to inhabit the unknown is approaching. Jules Verne’s science fiction novels ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ (1865), and its sequel ‘Round The Moon’ (1870) envisioned the trip to the moon and gave birth to a long artistic production within the realm of science fiction, literature, music, art, architecture and filmography; all driven by the human lust for outer space.
Following the rapid development of rockets, the everlasting dream of visiting the outer space turned into a possibility at the beginning of the 20th century. War technology developed particularly by the USA and USSR improved the capacity of rockets to leave the atmosphere. In 1957 ‘Sputnik’, the first artificial satellite went into orbit. During the next decade and under the space race between the two world superpowers, extraordinary achievements took place in the history of space exploration. In July 1969, when humans walked on the moon, a technological leap was made that 50 years ago was unthinkable. This race came to its peak with the first landing of Apollo 11 to the moon, followed by five more landings that ended in 1972. Ever since, unmanned explorations have been conducted leading to a more recent interest in establishing a permanent human base and future colonies.
While NASA, in collaboration with China, India, and Russia, is developing programmes to send Cosmonauts to the moon, other disciplines have expressed their interest in pursuing lunar inhabitation. Among the key projects are Foster and Partners’ Lunar Habitation (2015), and the Google Lunar X price, or Moonwards; an initiative for a virtual reality moon colony.
Theme: Outer-space Tourism
Lunar trips have enhanced our imagination and have enriched our knowledge in ways that led to improvements in fields such as science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. Nowadays, the value of space has expanded beyond science and fiction and, towards its exploitation in commercial terms.
Among other space-driven industries, outer space tourism has been investigated worldwide since the beginning of the 1960’s. With NASA, in cooperation with the Space Transportation Association, having officially launched a space tourism feasibility study that delivers promising results and Jet Propulsion Laboratory delivering a series of space-themed travel posters (Visions Of The Future, 2016) to advertise multi-planet tours to outer-space as the upcoming tourist-scape, it is apparent that plans around suborbital travel are about to become a commercial reality. Several privately-owned companies (incl. Virgin Atlantic, Space X, Blue origin) have already been researching on possible ways to mine, colonise outer space and exploit it as a viable tourist destination for their new group of clients ready to emerge; the Vacationauts.
Design task: The Poster
Considering space-traveling as an upcoming tourist experience, in this introductory exercise, the students are expected to create a compelling Space-Travel Poster for an imaginary Tourist Agency. The Space-Travel Poster should operate as an attractor for clients, while setting the test bed for your speculations on space-travel as an experience, considering inner and outer (physical/psychological) environments of high acceleration and (micro-) zero-gravity; all together projecting an experience that is enjoyable, unexpected and fun!
Brief 2: Space Body Mediator
Space Body Mediator is a three week-long brief shared by BAIA Level 5 and 6. The work that the students produce for the Body Space Mediator project will tie directly into the remainder of the term’s studio work, which will be completed in year groups.
The brief is divided into four parts:
- Analysis and Observation: working in groups the first exercise asks the students to stage an everyday action and photograph it in sequence.
- Speculation: This exercise is followed by drawing the same action performed in zero gravity. Referring to the ergonomic exercises the students did in first year and the register project in second year the project asks them to speculate on the shifting relationship between a bodily action and the physical environment; in this case outer space.
- Fabrication: The Space Body Mediator is a prosthetic that fits the human body mediates the action of the user with a zero gravity environment. The students will make three-dimensional, full scale study models of their design to ultimately make a perfected final version of you Body Space Mediator.
- The Crit: providing a forum for critical discussion and group debate
Analysis and Observation
I can eat a sandwich in any size of room. (James Gowan)
The modernist dictum ‘form follows function’ understood the function of a room as dictating its size and layout. So a bathroom has a bath in it, a bedroom a bed etc. However this assumes that use is universal and not affected by culture and personal habit, a chair and table for instance are taken for granted in Europe but are less important in India or Japan. The answer for the Interior Architect lies in a negotiation between space, time and function and can be a hugely creative point in the design process.
Space Body Mediator 1 asks the students to define an everyday action and act it out, photographing it as a sequence of events. The exercise then asks them to think about how that action might be effected by being performed in zero gravity. Using similar techniques as they did in the morning as well as drawing (we do not expect the students to float around the studio) they are asked to speculate on questions such as how does one fall sleep if one is floating around the interior? how can one move from one room to another? The only requirement is the action should interact with the interior surface and not just an object, i.e. include opening a door or drawer, interaction with floor/wall/ceiling, or looking through a window….
The students have identified an action, and then considered how this action would be affected by the zero gravity environment of outer space. The next task is to construct a Space Body Mediator.
What is a Space Body Mediator?
A Space Body Mediator is a prosthetic that fits the human body and mediates the user’s action with a zero gravity environment. The Space Body Mediator is to enable or enhance the action a student has in mind. This could be a glove, an eye lens, stilts, etc. When drawing the action in the zero gravity environment, undoubtedly one thought of difficulties that would arise for the person performing the action. At the same time, one may have noticed that the change in gravity would not necessarily be annoying, but in fact could make the action fun, pleasurable, or even magical. The students could think of their Space Body Mediator as equipment that fits the body of the user and enhances both the practical and pleasurable aspects of your action.
The process of designing a group’s Space Body Mediator follows 3 phases:
1) mocking-up: where each member of the group will make at least one quick 1:1 paper draft model. These initial drafts are quick tests; no need to overthink them; the students will refine the prototype once they test the selected materials.
2) prototyping: the group will evaluate the performance and aesthetics of the mock ups. The prototype will combine, include, and strive to perfect these elements. The prototype must introduce at least two of the following materials:
These materials are in the language of space suits, clothing, and prosthetics. There is learning curve to figuring out how to use the materials, but they will help the students to produce a professional result that fits the user’s body and suggests plausible use in outer space.
When prototyping, the students are to consider the craft and different ways materials can be combined. The prototype is an opportunity to test the material aspects of the design. It is to be taken into consideration that such a garment needs to mediate layers and be constructed of layers, each serving a specific purpose.
3) resolving: final version perfecting the craft and applying the materials.
Brief 3: The Ready Room
Following on from the Space-Travel Poster and the prototype of the Space Body Mediator, this brief continues the theme of space tourism and invites interior architects to critically consider and creatively respond to the new, unique, and exciting experiential conditions and ergonomic challenges that space tourism as a sector raises for the world of design.
Interiority or what happens when I imagine a satellite as a ready room. (Sonya Dyer)
A Day in Space
The brief invites the students to re-design a room as a sequence of experiences of living in space for tourists. Such interiors are designed to simulate conditions and atmospheres of space on earth, including zero-gravity rooms, water tanks etc, while considering and reassuring the tourist’s comfort and enjoyment.
The Ready Room Hub will be a centre where space travellers train, experience and familiarise themselves with the conditions of outer space, while the public can observe the trainee-resident throughout his/her 24-hour life in the space pod, witnessing ‘a day in space’ life cycle.
The space tourism scheme offers one traveller at a time the chance to inhabit the Ready Room for 24 hours. The programme of the activities that take place within these 24 hours should be tailored around experiences of student’s choice that relate to the context of space as a commodity and directly inform the design of the interior (colour, components, materials, textures, scale etc). The proposal should show how the everyday activities of living in a space are performed, in relation to conditions of zero-gravity, and how they both drive the design of the Ready Room.
The practical and ergonomic requirements are to be considered by demonstrating an understanding of the following states and conditions:
- Transition from inner to outer space Materials / Textures
- Light conditions
The aesthetics for the user’s comfort and enjoyment are also to be taken into consideration.
The design simulates outer space conditions for familiarisation purposes, yet the students should not forget that their interiors should enhance the space tourist’s feelings of indulgence and convenience.
The activities of the day correspond to slices of time, and to each slice of time there corresponds one
room of the apartment. (George Perec)
Before deciding the programmatic and design specificities of their Ready Room, it would be useful to construct a narrative for an imaginary tourist-inhabitant. For example, is he a male, female, or an animal?
The students should use their imagination to ‘choreograph’ the activities performed by the space tourist of their choice within the living pod in the duration of the 24-hour scheme. They are expected to use the knowledge and understating they have already developed around space conditions to inform and enrich the design of the Ready Room. This process may start by questioning and re-interpreting the living unit (bed-WC- kitchen rooms) by asking:
- What are the prevailing space conditions that reshape the living pod?
- What are the key, minimum facilities (cooking, wet room, sleeping) required for inhabitation?
- How can we enhance the design of these spaces aiming at a stimulating tourist experience?
- What are the materials deployed for these purposes?
- How are the light conditions?
These questions will give form to a 24-hour storyboard of the programmatic proposal for the Ready Room that relates inhabitation to certain conditions, atmospheres, design elements and views of the interior. This living pod is imagined as the stage of the everyday life of a space tourist. As an interior architect, student may design the space around the desired and selected activities that include the re-interpretation of a housing unit and any additional design essential to facilitate the special features, interests, hobbies, goals of your inhabitant.
After creating the 24-hour programmatic storyboard for their space-tourist that inhabits the Ready Room, they are expected to start the design of its interior by directly engaging with three imaginary or existing design elements; A Window, A Door, A Wall. This will allow them to rethink and challenge the ways in which we relate to these design elements in the context of space while reflecting on their role and significance in our everyday lives.
When the space shuttle’s engines cut off, and you’re finally in space, in orbit, weightless… I remember unstrapping from my seat, floating over to the window, and that’s when I got my first view of Earth. Just a spectacular view, and a chance to see our planet as a planet. (Sally Ride)
Is the window a frame? What does it frame? Is it a screen? What does it project?
The door breaks space in two, splits it, prevents osmosis, imposes a partition. On one side me and my place, the private, the domestic; on the other side, other people, the world, the public, politics. You can’t simply let yourself slide from one into the other, can’t pass from one to the other, neither in one direction nor in the other. (George Perec)
What does a Door do? How does it alter in space? What can it become?
A Wall / Surface
Granted there is a wall, what’s going on behind it? (Jean Tardieu)
Can we inhabit walls? How would vertical inhabitation drive the design of a living pod?