Fifteen FIU Architecture students in Visiting Professor Neil Leach’s Space Fictions seminar and design studio recently visited NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The students were given a special guided tour by Jack J. Fox, the Surface Systems Office in the Engineering and Technology Directorate at the Kennedy Space Center. Professor Leach is himself a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Fellow who has worked on a robotic fabrication technology for 3D printing structures on the Moon and Mars.
Space Fictions places the architecture student within the framework of outer space and induces him/her to rethink the relationship been utopian dreaming and functional convenience. The course addresses the challenge of designing a habitat in space, by engaging with the new design field of “Design Fictions.” Broadly speaking, the field of Design Fictions is to Design, as Science Fiction is to Science. It is a free-thinking domain that helps to inspire Design itself.
In Fall 2015, the Space Fictions seminar focused on research on the topics of both “Space Architecture” and “Design Fictions.” The seminar covered practical issues like radiation and weightlessness that make space inhospitable, but also looked at the inspirational field of “Design Fictions” that takes the research into a more utopian realm. This Spring 2016, the design studio focuses on work based on the conducted research. The intention of the course is that students will deliver design projects that lift the discourse of Space Architecture to a new level, “beyond the mercilessly practical,” says Professor Leach, “into a realm of truly inspirational utopian dreaming.”