Living in Exospace: ISS and Discovery 1

By Gul Kacmaz Erk.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

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The concept of exospace, as an alternative liveable structure, is discussed in this article to improve our comprehension of architectural space. Exospace is a man-made space designed for living beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Humankind has developed outerspace technologies to build the International Space Station as a significant experiment in exospace design. The ISS is a new building type for scientific experiments and for testing human existence in outerspace. A fictional example of exospace, on the other hand, is Discovery 1 spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s legendary science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It is a ship travelling to Jupiter with a crew of five astronauts and HAL 9000, the artificial intelligence controlling the ship. I will first discuss the ISS, and the space stations built before, from a spatial point of view. A spatial study of Discovery 1 will follow. Finally, through an understanding of exospace, I will return to architectural space with a critical appraisal. The comparison of architectural space with exospace will add to the discussion of space theories from a technological approach. Exospace creates an alternative reality to architectural space. Architects cannot consider exospaces without comparing them with the spaces they design on Earth. The different context of outerspace shows that a work of terrestrial architecture is very much dependent on its context. A building is not an ‘object’ that can be located anywhere; it is designed for its site. Architectural space is a real, material, continuous, static and extroverted habitable space designed for and used in the specific physical context of Earth. The existence of exospace in science opens a new discussion in architectural theory, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial.

Keywords: Exospace, Architectural Space, Film Space, Cinema-Architecture Relationship, Human-Compute, Interaction, International Space Station, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, Science versus Science Fiction

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 397.232KB).

Dr. Gul Kacmaz Erk

Lecturer in Architecture, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK

Dr. Gul Kacmaz Erk is a lecturer in architecture at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. She received her Bachelor and Master degrees in architecture at Middle East Technical University and her PhD degree in architectural design at Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. She practiced as a professional architect in Istanbul and Amsterdam. She was a researcher at University of Pennsylvania, USA and University College Dublin, Ireland, and taught at Philadelphia University, USA, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, and Izmir University of Economics, Turkey. In her research, she focuses on cinema and the city, architecture and film, architectural media and communication, and architectural design and theory.