Dasein in a Space Station: The Conquest of Space and the Potentiality of Architecture

Gabriela Świtek

Abstract


The paper explores some aspects of astronautics’ influence on late-modernist architecture and its existential consequences. The astronautics’ technologies and many 1960s designs of futuristic cities shared a false sense that in the near future man would be able to live anywhere on Earth (underwater, in the desert) as well as in outer space. When Ron Herron envisages the Walking City as a group of lunar rovers, with no foundations, freely roaming the surface, a GIAP member, Paul Maymont designs an air-conditioned city on the Moon. Less known are similar concepts by the architects from the Central-Eastern Europe, such as the “spacesuit-isation” of public buildings presented by Polish architect Andrzej Frydecki at the Terra-1 International Exhibition of Intentional Architecture (Wrocław Museum of Architecture, 1975). The hermetic spacesuit, which was to control and maintain fixed vital parameters of the body during space flight, has provided a solution for the modernist tendency to hermetically seal the spaces of architecture. The house of the future was to resemble the spacecraft cabin, as if the modernist “machine for living” paradigm had been replaced by the idea of a survival capsule for interplanetary flight. A similar tendency can be found in the 1960s urban utopias; the cities of the future are often disconnected from the ground, as if the new civilization could not be rooted on Earth. The 1960s architectural question of “dwelling on the Moon” is confronted with Hannah Arendt’s and Martin Heidegger’s reflection that it is the earth, and not the universe, which is “the centre and the home of mortal men”.

 

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