KYOTO SPACE LABORATORY - INTERIOR DESIGN
AND FLIGHT TRAINING CENTER
In a long run, cities prosper if they function as an atractor - if there is a reason for people to bring and maintain an intellectual, financial and production potential into them. If the individual human joy experienced overweighs the individual suffering, their total sums attached to a particular place forms something called "genius loci". Namely, if it is accumulated and transferred from generation to generation. This must have been the case of Kyoto for a long time. What might be the reason to ensure this mechanism to continue in the future of, let us say, 50 - 100 years from now? Non-material forms of wealth have been always valued and under conditions of relative economic prosperity they gradually gain in importance. We know that what we seek for are "New Frontiers" - as Americans put it. New, attractive and challenging horizons to strive for. New goals and aims out of reach enough to mobilize dreams and strengths, yet goals, which are still imbedded in our value and belief systems. And, after all, which result in a material well-being.
My proposition is, that "Kyoto Space Lab - Interior Design and Training Center" should serve as one of the long range frontiers. The idea is, as the title says, two folded.
- First, a "Space interior design studio". Advanced space age industry, university people - namely architects, psychologists, cultural antropologists, etologists, ecologists and technicians should unite in creating visions, projects and prototypes of environments, in which astronauts will live for extensive periods of their lives. The task is to create convenient and satisfying interiors for space vehicles, which not only simulate, but become authentic and original environments which enable humans to sustain their humanity over time.
Second, a "Flight training center". Since creating such an architecture
is a job, which involves cross - cultural psychology, if it is to serve
to mixed crews, it is necessary to collect a knowledge of various nation’s
mentalities as they reflect environmental requirements and also to test
the long time endurance of communal life at a limited space so constructed.
- Kyoto, as I expect, is one of the places with a strong "genius loci". It has a powerful spiritual and cultural history as a former capital of modern, dedicated and strong nation, which exhibited an ability to learn fast as to exceed knowledge of those, they learned from in the recent past. This nation which, at modern times, also mastered the skill to cooperate with others on a global scale, yet not loosing its distinctiveness.
- Japan, a member of "G7 club", is in a close contact with space industries. It will be in a strong need to maintain leadership in most advanced industrial endeavors. Space technology might be viewed as having its "hardware" and "software" aspects. To create space design and architecture might be regarded as the "soft" side of the coin: it is knowledge-demanding, but without enormous investments to develop and upgrade a new industry. This "soft" tasks are also ecologically safe.
- There are numerous experiences in Japan with the use of computer based design and simulation techniques (CAD/CAM) in the industry. Virtual reality offers an excellent tool for much of what is being proposed and is readily available in Japan.
- Traditional Japan architecture is also well known for its flexible use of the same space to fulfill various functions (as contrasted with Western tradition of architecture).
- Japan architecture had to find dramatically new ways how to react to modern Western architecture, without loosing its traditional roots. This skill (and experience) is also of a special advantage, not to be found everywhere.
Japan tradition in composing miniature gardens (symbolic samples
of the nature) with condensed the meaning of individual artifacts
is unique and world-wide known.
me develop two above proposed functions of the Center in somewhat more
To use a metaphor, Japan culture used tiny samples of physical environment as a mean to communicate with divine powers of the nature at large. Also space vehicle crews will need a suitable samples of "environment" for man’s mind to close a fictive communication feedback loop with the nature (the chain being the mind, environment as a mirror - or the Divinity for some - and back mind again). As I understand it, contemplation is based on such feedback loops and this mechanism is known for ages. Since possibilities to choose appropriate qualities of private (or even shared) environments to serve to these purposes is severely limited, an extra care has to be devoted to design available space - "the mind’s mirror" - of the vehicle well. We all know the sometimes destructive role of positive feedback loops.
Crew members of space vehicles, destined for a long time missions, not only will have to be multi-technically trained, but also will have to "philosophers" in a way. And their philosophy (mental state) will be grounded in their immediate environment.
Even some other, less philosophical questions, might become research projects of the Laboratory. How will all the known physical qualities of interior effect minds of crews (and their social interaction) under unknown conditions of long-time isolation? Size and shape of space, its form and composition, sources of light, colors, temperature, tactile qualities of materials used, quality of air, sounds etc.? All these qualities had profound meaning in the history of architecture of various cultures. How they will effect well-being, mental state (and thus reliability) of crews? How will be the babies raised there and what will be the environmental design environments in this respect? How will their developmental needs be transformed into the flexibility of the vehicle’s interior?
Time and predictability of changes play also an important role in the behavior of people. What should be the regime and the timing of various changes? Importance of this all is underlined by a fact, that direct social interaction on board, the only alternative to solitude, will be extremely dense and also limited. A well known "submarine effect", often used in science-fictions, might be unavoidable and without real solution. Under normal conditions of flight, the only substitute solution might turn out to be the unpredictable variation of internal environmental conditions. Certain randomness (as to simulate weather changes) might be needed. Speaking of randomness, in the strictly rational environment, what portion will be left for irrationality of men?
Space architecture might not be devoted only to shaping of the interior of vehicles. Similarly as at the times, when cars were introduced, no one cared much about their artistic design, it seems to us that the outer appearance of space vehicles may be left only to engineers. It may well not be true in the future and the school of spacecraft industrial design may become crucial competitive advantage - if the industry will be under commercial pressures. Then, how will the space architecture look like? What functions would it serve to? Will there be anything like a "space ethics"? Will this esthetics be left only to engineers or should it support the mental well being of crews? What and by whom, under new conditions, will be considered as pretty and what as ugly?
Flight Training Center". Long time service on space vehicles is already
experimented with. Also multinational crews are being used. A great body
of literature summarizes experiences with training crews for (military)
missions worldwide. Training centers of this kind already exist, but since
to do space architecture for a long time missions well means
Surely there are new niches in this area, which were not explored yet. Above, I have mentioned randomness in the environment and irrationality of men. What forms will obtain the "space individual and social pathology" and psychopathology? Social psychologist have shown, that screening of individuals can not prevent the origin of cruel behavior in groups. Etologists have a lot to say about it.
If the training of business managers includes more and more skills directed to management of emotions and irrationality not only at the times of crises, the more important it will be for a long time flights of isolated crews.
step even further from the original image of the Kyoto Space Training Center:
space medicine and space psychiatry are going to bloom within 100 years
- why Kyoto should not to be one of their founding centers? The doors to
the future, seems to me, are open in Kyoto.