Saturday, February 28, 2009

Space is the Place

Spaceport - New Mexico, Foster + Partners

I've had "Space" on my brain for the last few days so I'm going to throw onto the blog some of the recent stuff I've run across so I don't lose it. By the way, isn't "Outer Space" just about the most uncreative name you could ever think of for the area that is in between planets? Or maybe it’s just perfect... I'm going to be referring to it from now on as "In-Between Area Outside Of Our Atmosphere Also Excluding Other Planets" or IBAOOOAAEOP for short. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

My recent mental turn to the outer reaches came after doing some thinking on my topic and what I've been studying so far. It’s been about a month since I've been traveling, so it seems fitting to do some reflective thinking on what has happened so far and what lies ahead. I've had the rare and oh so grateful opportunity to see wonders which I never thought I would behold, met people that broadened my outlook more than my meager words could do them justice, and overall have had an amazing and profound experience. Being this grateful though also means you want to spend your borrowed time wisely, and so now I've been thinking on the steps ahead. This is as much for my own personal mental house cleaning as anything else, but I hope those that are reading will also find some interest in it, and like always, please feel free to comment or email with thoughts of your own. I've been fortunate so far to hear many friends and family's take on what I should be looking into. One close family member heard I was going to Greece and asked if I could get John Travolta's autograph, though that might prove to be difficult as well as a horrible joke. Thanks Dad.

So up to this point in the architectural odyssey I've looked into the past a great deal. There has been some recent work studied in depth such as the Nasrid Wall Addition, La Tourette Monastery, and the lucky discovery of Paulo David's work, but the majority has been investigating ways of building in more or less ancient contexts [The blog posts for Matera and Alberobello, Italy are good examples and should be posted as soon as I get a stronger internet connection for uploading pictures]. I wish to delve a little deeper into how many ancient civilizations have handled far distances to resources so I've set my sights on Greece : Meteora [Monasteries said to have used kites to haul the first ladders up to steep unreachable cliffs] and Islands [Separation from resources leads to a difference or simultaneity of construction?]. After that is Egypt : The Bedouin [Tribe of desert nomads still living in relative isolation in the Sinai Desert] and St. Catherine's Monastery [Oldest known monastery in the world in the middle of the desert, said to be at the base of the mountain where the 10 commandments were read].

Which brings me to outer space. What? Exactly. The research, along with studying how cultures reacted to their surroundings to form an architecture with a sense of place, also means to investigate those places that humans arguably are not meant to be. Sites that have no readily available materials to build with, deserts with hot stinging sand as far as the eye can see, lands of rock hard ice and snow, and places where there is not even oxygen to support life. We have mapped more territories than ever before and our cities are continuing to get denser. Now is a time when people are beginning to drastically reconsider where we can and cannot live as available land and resources become scarcer. To think about living in outer space or at the South Pole in the time of our grandfathers would have been considered impossible if not extremely improbable. But low and behold, we are at a point now where the question of "Can we?" is coming up more and more. The first private Spaceport in the world put up for an architecture competition in 2007, with the prize going to Norman Foster + Partners. And the International Space Station is hoping to near completion in 2011. I believe many of the next months ahead will focus on attempting to answer questions regarding these types of remote sites. How are they being built? How is life able to be maintained and in which way are the resources used wisely in both construction and in habitation? What does the future hold for the next radical dream turned reality?

That’s all for now, more from Greece soon and back logs from Italy…


Thoughts on Traveling #5 : Spanish is not the same as Italian. The Italians know this.


Nick Sowers said...

nice product placement in the Foster rendering.

no doubt you have already looked into this. It's a shame the Branner funds are not $350,000...

Brad Bushman said...

Going along with that same concept with the space station and such. I was watching tv the other day(probably the discovery channel) and they had a special on ocean life. One of the segments was on an underwater habisphere. Basically, it was an underwater laboratory where divers live for a few weeks at a time and are able to do much more work because they aren't constantly going to the surface having to equalize their bodies from the deep water pressure. Thought you'd be interested, it seems to fit in with your "remote" building criteria.

Brad Bushman said...

I just found the website if you're more interested.

It's actually run through UNCW.