Tate in Space «Softroom Space Island» 2003.


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Softroom is an architecture studio based in Soho, London. The company was founded in 1995 by Chris Bagot, Dan Evans and Oliver Salway. In addition to a growing portfolio of original built projects, Softroom are at the leading edge of developments to expand the scope of architecture into other cultural spheres. Softroom are developing designs for Space Island, a proposal to build the first commercial space station in earth orbit, scheduled to begin construction this decade.

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Space Island is a real proposal for the first commercial space station. The station will be built upusing the large orange external fuel tanks of NASA’s Space Shuttle. Each tank has about the same space inside as a hollowed out Jumbo Jet. The Space Island is a giant wheel of these tanks, connected to a central spine (again built from the same tanks). The station rotates, and in so doing, creates one-third of the gravity found on earth. The tanks in the middle are not exposed to this effect, so they experience true zero gravity.

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The gallery is divided into three zones:

ZONE 1, the visitor passes through the middle of a chamber where they can be totally surrounded by artworks that float freely around them. Depending on the materials used (for example, chunks of rock, or blobs of paint), you might want to have a protective tunnel for the viewer!

ZONE 2 is a totally wrap-around space — it has a single curved surface that might be used for projections or painting. Like in space itself, there is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ orientation, inviting artists to thinkabout new forms of composition, creating images stretching in all directions with no edges.
After all, there is no way for the artist to know which way up the viewer will be.

ZONE 3 has two ‘cog’ shaped chambers. These cogs can rotate independently and at different speeds. The centrifugal force they generate as they turn creates a level of artificial gravity. The amount of gravity depends on the speed of the rotation.

Artists could create works for specific gravitational strengths, or works that change in their form as the speed of the cogs (and the amount of gravity) changes. ZONE 3 adjustable gravity ‘cogs.’ ~ Softroom.

SPACE ISLAND is made up from Space Shuttle fuel tanks, connected together. model.

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sources: softroom.com, tate.org.uk