the effects of polyglobal civilizations on the philisophical constructs of architecture

By: Thomas M. Ciesla
Originally published in the proceedings of   IDEEA One:First International Design For Extreme Environments Assembly ;November, 1991. Abstract has been reformatted for online publishing

In turning his attention to space, man enters a new age that invigorates exploration and redefines it at the same time. The exploration of presumably abiotic and insentient environments in the solar system will challenge many philosophies pursued by man. Man -- the builder -- will build in outer space, both on-orbit and on the surfaces of planets and satellites, and in doing so may be forced to redefine the paradigms of architecture.

Architecture will slowly evolve into two fields: terrestrial architecture and extraterrestrial architecture. While many of the techniques used by terrestrial architects will transfer to other planets, many will not. Modified human factors, new materials, standards and construction techniques will force architecture to shelter man with systems not yet available on Earth.

Terrestrial architecture varies in aesthetics and methodolgy, influenced by culture and climate. All architecture does, however, share funadmental constructs which permeate our lives and effect every structure built, while going relatively un-noticed:

  • 1. Man is a surface dweller.
    Most of man's architectural efforts have been confined to land, and more specifically, on the surface of that land.
  • 2. Man is a creature of gravity.
    Stable, Earth-normal gravity is endemic to man's nature. It shapes his architecture, his body and his perception of reality.
  • 3. Man exists in a benevolent atmosphere.
    In all variations of architecture throughout history, Earth's atmosphere (air) has moved freely in and out of man's structures. Architecture encloses the atmosphere, but rarely seals it out.

Once mankind extends his presence to other bodies in the solar systems these constructs change. Gravity varies from world to world, the atmosphere, if any, must be sealed out, and surface dwelling is difficult. The homeostatic relationship between man and planet no longer exists. That is not to say, however, that the Martian or Lunar environments are hostile. We may do ourselves a disserivce by using the term, 'hostile', creating a mindset which restricts our solutions.

As we spread throughout the solar system, it is the role of achitecture to ask how man can best co-exist with these environments, rather than protect himself from them. The varied environments of these worlds may force architecture to evolve along planetary lines; with Earth, Martian and Lunar architectures all constributing to the overall philosophy of the discipline.


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