#ADesignLibrary: Space Settlements (2019)

Masked up, isolated and confined in cramped spaces all day — life under lockdown feels very much like living in outer space. A deep dive into (or out towards?) Space Settlements (2019) by Fred Scharmen reveals the many parallels between constructing space habitats and on Earth. Examining a 1975 NASA study led by physicist Gerard O’Neil to design a space settlement, Scharmen reveals how the seemingly fantastical sci-fi endeavour was shaped by similar methods, concerns and solutions of 1970s modern architecture on planet earth. What is the spaceship but ”just an elevator with a higher top floor”? And the idea of “megastrucutres” advocated by Metabolists as flexible frames to construct cities were useful for space which had no ground. In fact, the empty slate of space only made apparent how much we take for granted when designing environments on Earth. Only by stepping out of home, can we see it that much clearer.

#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome enquiries and physical loans.

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