Space Colonies once seemed inevitable, but when public interest migrated elsewhere, the momentum behind extraterrestrial exodus quietly evaporated into thin air. The proposed space colonies pictured above were produced over a series of summers at Ames Research Center and a larger gallery of the work produced across these optimistic summers can be seen here. While reading about these habitat designs, I came across quite possibly my favorite sentence on the NASA website. Here, the author–a serious scientist– is talking about the need for pseudogravity in space colonies so that the colonist keep enough physical strength to return to earth: “To rule it out, as might be the case if bones and muscles were allowed to deteriorate too far by long habitation in zero gravity, would be to make of the colonists a race apart, alien to and therefore quite possibly hostile to those who remain on Earth.”
I’m surprised there isn’t more interest amongst architects and architecture students to imagine the possibilities of space making in… um… space. Greg Lynn recently lead a studio in Vienna through the design of a space colony, but I’m not aware of other recent examples. (If you know of one, please email me at email@example.com) Maybe it’s too ironic that architects spend their time fighting against gravity on the earth and go to space only to recreate those problems. So many earth-bound projects strive to look like they are somehow frozen in motion, immune from gravity or at least defying structural expectations. But we don’t have those expectations or limitations in space and could finally make everything float if we wanted. The only potential problem is that people floating around in these snazzy abodes would start to plot how to destroy the humans still on earth.