Panel Session Summary: Building Beyond
“Building Beyond: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Architecture in Space” was a panel discussion comprising architects, artists, authors, scientists, and engineers speaking about the expanding roles their disciplines are finding in the field of space architecture. Emerging cultural and economic forces are opening aerospace design to more diverse participants and viewpoints, and especially to integrators with skills to collaborate across disciplines. Opportunities and incentives for space architects are increasing, especially in the crossover between space habitation system development and applying lessons learned from space projects and technologies to help development of sustainable, autonomous, and ecosystem-integrated projects on Earth.
The session was held the evening before the Opening Ceremony of the 69th International Astronautical Congress, convenient for arriving delegates and serving as a stimulating introduction to the scope of space architecture and start to the week. Attendance was noteworthy, about 100, with wide-ranging Q&A followed by informal dialogue, fellowship, and refreshments.
Space Architect Barbara Imhof described multiple collaborative projects with designers, engineers, and scientists: expandable habitat prototypes, Antarctic greenhouses, and sintering of lunar regolith. Engineer Daniel Schubert expanded on the role of the broad team that created the antarctic greenhouse project, now in operation, aimed at developing lessons for growing plant life in space. Biologist and Artist Angelo Vermeulen summarized multidisciplinary studies on starship concepts, projecting a visionary future of ecosystems in space. Architect Jan Dierckx from Foster+Partners discussed how their work on autonomous 3D printing for Mars and smart habitation has helped keep the firm at the forefront of advanced Earth construction. Author, Engineer, and Space Architect Brent Sherwood put architects’ unique skills into the context of interdisciplinary design of space systems, and described the long view of human expansion into space. Through lively discussion about their work and the state of space design, the panel highlighted the enthusiasm, interest, and opportunities for multiple disciplines working together on the verge of building beyond.