Category Science

Foster + Partners Gets Into 3-D Printing with Moondust

Foster + Partners Gets Into 3-D Printing with Moondust

Foster + Partners Gets Into 3-D Printing with Moondust

While Foster + Partners aren’t busy thinking about their projects across the pond (the new Apple Campus and modifying the New York Public Library) the firm is thinking about a project across the atmosphere where they one day hope that using moondust in giant 3-D printers will churn out some architecture.

By using the abundant lunar regolith (the fancy word for moondust) and a combination of inflatable domes and 3-D printing technologies, the design firm has helped the Europoean Space Agency imagine how a human habitation might take shape at the moon’s southern pole. Together, they’ve already started to test wall geometries inside a vacuum. It’s one small step closer to lunar habitation, but still giant leaps from happening.

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loop.ph Connects Science With Design

loop.ph design and science

Loop.ph garden

If you’ve ever wanted to hear someone talk to works at the intersection of design and science, this video is for you.  It features Mathias Gmachl– one of the core collaborators at loop.ph– talking about how science has informed the work that the studio continues to produce.  The studio started way back in 2003 when he and the other core collaborator at loop, Rachel Wingfield, worked with Nobel Prize-winning scientist John E. Walker. Walker won his prize for helping to characterize ATP synthase, the molecular motor that Gmachl talks about.  Since then, the studio has produced numerous project that translate abstract research into fanciful and tactile designs.

Antarctic-tecture: The New Halley Research Station

New Halley Research Station

New Halley Research Station

The technical merit behind the newest Halley Research Station is stunning. Located on an ice shelf in Antarctica, the new structure hopes to fare a little better on the frozen seas than its five predecessors. This station, which officially opens today, was realized by Hugh Broughton Architects after the firm won a competition to realize their design for the station. HBA did not exactly have experience with designing extreme cold structures before, but they did have a novel idea about how to new station could avoid becoming crushed under layers of ice and snow, which is how research stations on the ice shelf typically meet their end.

And in case the physical environment wasn’t harsh enough, the spaces have to help research personel cope with being isolated for months in darkness. In this chain of connected modules, the blue modules contain laboratory and living spaces while the red module in the the middle of the series contains special spaces to help the folks wintering on the ice shelf survive. A climbing wall, a hydroponic salad garden, and even a carefully constructed color palette: “The architect worked with a color psychologist to identify ‘refreshing and stimulating’ shades, and developed a bedside lamp with a daylight bulb to simulate sunrise.”

New Halley Research Station

But I’m having to confront another question when I see images of the new project: why does science look the way that science does. This building is a psychology experiment propped up on hydraulic legs with skis at the bottom. It doesn’t need anything else to make it exciting.  But the interiors still look unexciting to me, even with the meticulously selected color palette. The architect inside my brain wants the inside to look more sophisticated. This is a new space for the same research station that discovered the hole in the ozone layer some twenty-seven years ago, do they really want to live in a space that looks like a scandanavian dorm from the ’70s?

New Halley Research Station

Maybe they do. The scientists I work with on a daily basis are smart, but they don’t exactly have the best taste. They’re just worried about other things: things like… science. I’ve been distracted entire meetings by terrible fonts and spent embarrassing amounts of time reformatting routinely-used paperwork or organizing the chaotic mess of shelving where we store just about everything. I think I’ve made our lab look more polished and professional, but the scientists, with their cell phones clipped to the waistband of decades-old jeans, are the ones designing the experiments that actually help advance our lab’s research.

It’s not so helpful for me look at a cutting-edge research station like the one above and see only a ceiling I can’t stand. I don’t know what happens to the quality of spaces when more and more technical requirements are packed into its walls, but it happens nonetheless.

Giant Leaps: From Architecture To Medical School

julian vossandreae protein Sculpture

 Model of a folded protein by Julian Voss-Andreae.

Do you ever day dream about having another job?  I mean something completely different from what you’re doing now. A couple of years ago, after years of daydreaming, I decided to start seriously thinking about a career outside of architecture. At first I wasn’t even sure what I was doing… I just knew I wanted to take a few science classes, and learn about something I had never really understood: how the human body work. I was surprised how much I enjoyed these few classes, so a few classes turned into a few more. Things snowballed after I spent a summer working in a research lab: I went to grad school, got a Master’s degree, shadowed a few folks and this past November I spent a day interviewing for med school.

When the idea first started forming in the back of my head to take these classes, I was probably picking up red lines– mindlessly clicking and typing my way through miles of autoCAD drawings. Months later, I blurted out that I wanted to go back to school while my family and I were on vacation. With their support, I moved back home, started working part time, and taking classes full time at a community college. In short order, I had transitioned from living and working in Los Angeles, to working and taking classes in rural Mississippi. What the hell was I thinking?

For years, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Would I have the same frustrations in another career? Do I just like school more than working? But I convinced myself that I was doing the responsible thing even if it wasn’t the fun thing. To my surprise, I was never the oldest person in my classes, and many of my classmates were surprised when I told them I already had a degree and work experience. I assumed it was because I looked young, but maybe I was just that immature.

After a year of freshmen science classes, I had the opportunity to work in a research lab, and I jumped at the chance because I thought it would help me get an internship at NASA the following summer.  It didn’t work out that way.  I was working the lab of a professor at a teaching hospital, and he asked me if I’d be interested in going to graduate school. So that happened, and then the MCAT happened and then a long and tedious application process happened and then the interview happened. And then- and then- and then- I found out I was in.  I think the only person that cried more than me was my twin sister, Elena.

The whole time this has been happening, I’ve been writing for the blog and trying to have something that resembles a life. My mom was diagnosed with cancer (she’s fine now), I officiated my twin sister’s wedding (she’s still married), and I just spent a week in Guatemala on a medical service trip (where I climbed an active volcano). These years have been a roller coaster, but now I’m completely embarrassed by how happy I am. You can expect to start seeing posts from me with new and different flavors, but I will always remain deeply interested in architecture.  I’ve even used some of my skills to design and help build sets for five different stage productions since I stopped working in architecture firms. In short, I’ve gone from daydreaming about a new and exciting career path to sitting at my desk daydreaming about my original profession.  What would I be doing right now if I had stayed put? It’s been a bizarre and sometimes wobbly arc. But I’m excited about this new future I’ve built for myself.

Space Suit of the Week

Wiktor Franko - Cosmonaut Girl

Wiktor Franko - Cosmonaut Girl

Polish photographer Wiktor Franko’s work-in-progress series, inspired by Ridley Scott films, captures cosmic queens in common spaces. Franko casts a narrative through his leading space ladies – the first space adventurer with freckles and chest bare has a gaze stripped of emotion. In contrast, the pensive subject depicted in full color below has steamed up her shield and is matched with a intent gaze. These girls have places to be.

Space Suit of the Week

Space Race - Tom Clohosy Cole

Space Race - Tom Clohosy Cole

Space Race - Tom Clohosy Cole

Space Race - Tom Clohosy Cole

Space Race - Tom Clohosy Cole

Space Race - Tom Clohosy Cole

The space race was the greatest competition all time: two great nations pushing technological and scientific boundaries for galactic supremacy. Rooted in the necessity to achieve what no nation had yet to accomplish, science and mankind reached new heights. Tom Clohosy Cole’s concertina, Space Race, beautifully illustrates this push to the limits. The efforts of these two great Cold War super powers are detailed on opposing sides of a paper-made Iron Curtain narrating the notable achievements of spaceflight. The highlights of the USSR include Sputnik’s star streak across the autumn sky and Yuri Gagarin’s landmark orbital waltz around the home planet. On the opposing side, the achievements of the United States showcase the Apollo rocket boys. Cole’s concertina crescendos at quite probably the greatest single achievement in the space race – the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. This event technically marks the end of the Space race between the two nations as the Soviet Soyuz and the Yankee Apollo crafts dock together–a cosmic handshake and sign of peace. From my own ethnocentric point of view, the space race narrative (as told here in the United States) ends with Armstrong & his boys’ dance on the moon. Yet in actuality the Test Project, commonly referred to statewide as Apollo 18, is truly the last dance of the great space race. Cole’s depiction in four colors boldly celebrates these adventuresome achievements. And unfurled, it paints a panorama of this time far grander than any Hasselblad shot brought back as a souvenir.

Weightlessness & Tastelessness: The NASA Space Food Systems Laboratory

SpaceFoodSkylabTray

space food - mercury

Space Food Apollo

Space Food Shuttle Tray

The responsibility of concocting the US astronauts’ meals falls on the shoulders of NASA Space Food Systems Laboratory (SFSL). Their mission is to “…provide high-quality flight food systems that are convenient, compatible with each crew member’s physiological and psychological requirements, meet spacecraft stowage and galley interface requirements, and are easy to prepare and eat in the weightlessness of space.” Those necessities are strict confines in the composition of a spacefarer’s diet yet another factor comes into play–the degradation of the sense of taste in weightlessness.

Foods tastes bland and flavorless; even astronauts who admit to not enjoying spicy foods and finding themselves reaching for the bottle of hot sauce. A few days into a mission, Astronauts lose their sense of smell in space and food in general doesn’t taste quite on point. I can’t figure out why exactly astronauts lose their sense of smell, but I can only imagine fluids in your body get all messed up when you’re floating delicately in space. To compensate for this sensation, the Food Systems Lab has prepared a slue of spicy, flavor packed foods. They have even called in Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, and Rachel Ray to created meals for lift off.

Generally, eating in space seems quite fun. It’s a lot easier to play with your food in the weightlessness. It does seem a little harder to start a food fight, though.

Space Race: A Series Of History Inspired Posters by Justin Van Genderen

Justin Van Genderen - Space Race

Justin Van Genderen - Space Race

Justin Van Genderen - Space Race

The history of the Space Race may be one of the most fascinating endeavors of our life times. Just the idea of travelling to space seems unfathomable, but we managed to do it. Designer Justin Van Genderen made a series of beautiful posters chronicling the journey from an American perspective, six in total, portraying the efforts of the Apollo, Mercury and Gemini missions. I’m not sure which ones I like better. There’s the highly stylized typography one, or the more information based posters which feel more scientific in nature. You can grab one for yourself by clicking here.

Space Suit of the Week

Price Peterson - Astronaut

Price Peterson - Astronaut

Price Peterson‘s Astronaut series is a clash between Stuart Little and King of the Hill that perfectly rolls into a charming portrait of an Americana astronaut. Peterson’s astronauts (#1-3) take flight and get a ‘buzz’ in a method that is more conventional to a gravity controlled figures such as ourselves.

Space Suit of the Week

The Astronauts - Dreams of Flying - Jan von Holleban

Jan von Holleban

German photographer Jan von Holleban takes inspiration from storybooks and heroic fantasies to create living dioramas in his 2002 – 2008 series “Dreams of Flying. With the help of local neighborhood children, von Holleban creates scenes that fitful all childhood aspirations and dreams. Here’s to dreaming big in 2013!