It seems that there is a standard expectation in the design of space facilities. Even with the ability to design in fairly wild ways, people seem to think that space stations ought to follow a hierarchical design. There is usually a wide cone-like top with a shaft and rings around a central shaft. This design suggests a need to find familiarity with gravity based designs which are bottom up with floors stacked on top of each other. Unless there is a form of artificial gravity one doesn’t need to design in such a way. Floors could be perpendicular or diagonal to each other. Floors don’t even have to necessarily exist where one might simply have a series of spheres connected by conduits. Any number of configurations are possible in zero gravity.
Designers across the globe must certainly groan in unison when somebody offers their thirteen-year-old-cousin up as the “designer” in the family; he has MS Paint after all! Just give him a 2-liter of Pepsi and a pizza, and all of your “Design” needs are taken care of! Or, if it’s not someone’s cousin, then at the very least it is some logo/graphic factory from across the seas willing to ship any generic image with some customized text.
This seems to be the onus of my Graphic Design brethren as of late. Fortunately for Architecture, there are no programs (that I can think of) that generate an instant building foundations, frame, and all in the real world.
It seems a rather poignant question for the very first post of any blog about “Space Architecture”:
What is it?
If an Architect were to ask a random someone what they think it is, many people may be quick to assume that Space Architects simply take space stations and other space “stuff”, pile it together, and re-arrange it to “look pretty”… and who could blame someone for giving such a terse answer? After all, that is what Architects accomplish on Earth, isn’t it?
If someone is lucky, they may get a habitual “Googler” instead, and their answer would look like:
“(T)he theory and practice of designing and building inhabited environments in outer space.” – Wikipedia
Better… but not quite the truth either. There is much more to “design” after all than simply making something “look pretty”. Before diving in to what Architecture in space tries to accomplish, perhaps it would be a good idea to first understand what Architecture attempts to accomplish here on Earth.