I was surprised and delighted this week to learn about Nicholas de Monchaux, a Berkley-based architect and educator who has recently published his book Spacesuits: Fashioning Apollo. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that an architect would be interested in space suits, I’m just surprised (and slightly embarrassed) I haven’t stumbled across his book or research before this week. BLDGBLOG published an interview with De Monchaux about his new book, his interest in space suits and his architecture practice. An excerpt:
“One of the things I find most fascinating about the idea of the spacesuit is that space is actually a very complex and subtle idea. On the one hand, there is space as an environment outside of the earthly realm, which is inherently hostile to human occupation—and it was actually John Milton who first coined the term space in that context.
“On the other hand, you have the space of the architect—and the space of outer space is actually the opposite of the space of the architect, because it is a space that humans cannot actually encounter without dying, and so must enter exclusively through a dependence on technological mediation.”
It’s a great read. The interview pulls in a lot of ideas with which I am not terribly fluent (for instance, the relationship between astronauts and cyborgs) and there are plenty of fun facts. Did you know Playtex made space suits? Yes, Playtex: the brassiere-and-girdle maker. There was also a link between NASA and HUD, bolstered by the belief that “the same techniques that got us to the moon would also solve the problems of American cities.”
AND here’s an hour-long video of Nicholas giving a talk about all of this: