The Outer Space Also Needs Architects

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Conventional architecture and architectural engineering pedagogy deals with design of buildings and systems for earth-specific functions, spans and load demands. Architecture curriculum has required educators to constantly transform and innovate their course offerings to meet the changing trends and rapid technological advancements. The discourse about space exploration and colonization have placed a creative onus on educators who have traditionally taught design for earth conditions alone. While terrestrial structures are typically designed for service conditions and region-specific severe conditions, outer space structures in contrast are designed for unique extreme conditions such as zero or microgravity, gamma radiation, high temperature fluctuations, and micrometeoroid impacts. Planetary soil (or regolith) characteristics also present unique challenges that are very different from soil problems on earth. For a long time, work related to space exploration and design were confined to scientists and engineers. However, the challenges faced are multi-disciplinary and require expertise from several fields such as aerospace engineering, structural engineering, environmental engineering, psychology, urban planning, architecture and design. Architecture firms such as SEArch, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Foster + Partners, and Bjarke Ingels, and offices of Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) and Thornton Tomasetti are engaged in planning and design of structures for Mars and Moon. In this spirit, knowledge of outer space architecture (OSA) and engineering will certainly provide the foundations, skills, knowledge, and design sensibility that architecture students can build upon in their careers. There may be more graduating architects in future working for space agencies or offices dedicated to outer space designs. But, what exactly should this body of knowledge contain and how should it be delivered? This paper discusses how OSA can be offered as a specialization and/or a joint degree in architecture and architectural engineering programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1395
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 22 2020
Event2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 22 2020Jun 26 2020


  • Architectural engineering
  • Architecture
  • Deployable structures
  • Design studio
  • Extreme conditions
  • Inflatable structures
  • Lunar
  • Mars
  • Moon
  • Outer space architecture
  • Seminar
  • Terrestrial architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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