Journey to the Moon with Danish Architecture Center and Explore Life in a Lunar Habitat
This winter, Danish Architecture Center will open its new exhibition showing how we can not only survive but thrive in space. From February 12 – September 4, 2022, the general public is invited to experience the exhibition A Space Saga – Tomorrow’s Space Architecture. Learn about the young Danish architectural studio SAGA Space Architects and get exclusive access to their lunar habitat, aka the astronauts’ home.
In 2020, SAGA Space Architects tested their design for a lunar habitat on a spectacular mission in northern Greenland lasting nearly a hundred days. Along the way, they became much wiser about what it takes to build a home for somewhere other than Earth, where such basic things as air, stable temperatures, water and food are not available and therefore require a whole new way of thinking. The mission was also filmed and made into a documentary series for Danish television.
In the exhibition A Space Saga – Tomorrow’s Space Architecture, the lunar habitat has found its way into Danish Architecture Center’s Golden Gallery, so guests can discover for themselves what a lunar habitat looks like inside and learn about SAGA Space Architects’ experience with space architecture. At DAC Cafe, for instance, you can taste-test the freeze-dried food that astronauts eat, and in DAC Design Shop, you can take it home with you and surprise your friends with the ultimate fast food menu.
Whether you’re a huge science fiction fan, a space enthusiast or simply curious about what architecture and design might look like on the Moon, this exhibition invites everyone on a fascinating journey into outer space.
Space Architecture of the Future
It has been nearly 50 years since man last stepped foot on the Moon. But with the latest advances in rocket technology and growing political focus on space travel, the American space agency, NASA, is planning to send astronauts to the Moon in 2025. It will be the first manned moon landing since 1972 – and with the first female astronaut. These lunar missions are considered an important step toward eventually being able to send people to Mars.
But how can you live in an environment that is so much harsher than even one of the most uninhabitable places on Earth? SAGA Space Architects designs space habitats and architecture for extreme environments to prepare for the day life in space goes mainstream. In addition, SAGA uses solutions from the space industry for high-tech architecture on Earth.
“At Danish Architecture Center, we believe that architecture creates the physical framework for a sustainable life – whether it is on Earth or in outer space. When it comes to space architecture, Denmark is very well represented, particularly by the designs of the young architectural studio SAGA Space Architects, which are currently on exhibit at DAC. We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm and fascination for architecture and giving our guests unique insight into the considerations that go into space architecture, human curiosity and well-being,” says Tanya Lindkvist, program manager at Danish Architecture Center.
Explore the Lunar Habitat from the Mission in Northern Greenland
Since 2018, SAGA Space Architects have worked on developing the high-tech lunar habitat, LUNARK. It has allowed the architects to test many of their theories about what it takes to build healthier homes in space, where physical and mental well-being are in focus. Experience that can also be applied to create high-tech architecture on Earth.
In 2020, the studio was able to test LUNARK on a nearly 100-day mission in North Greenland. There, the two space architects, Sebastian Aristotelis and Karl-Johan Sørensen, set up and lived in the habitat to study how well the architecture functions and how isolation in an extreme environment affects the mind.
The habitat itself is designed to fit in the cargo hold of a rocket ship. Inspired by Japanese origami, the LUNARK habitat can be folded and unfolded again after landing, increasing its volume by 750%. Making it compact during transport, but spacious when astronauts move into the 4.5 m2. There, the astronauts eat, sleep and exercise until it is time for them to return to Earth.
But how do you live in such a small space? The tight space inside the habitat requires practical thinking about food since there is limited storage space. There’s also a limit to how many items you can take with you, so everything has to be carefully considered. On top of that, there isn’t much room for privacy, and a high-tech space suit designed to keep the astronaut warm, even at -45 degrees Celsius, is the only option for going outside the habitat to stretch your legs and get some alone time.
Sensory Stimuli Incorporated in the Architecture
In collaboration with scientists, Saga Space Architects has studied the psychological effects of isolation to learn how we can stimulate astronauts’ senses through the way we build homes for space.
Here on Earth, people get all the variety our senses need through changing seasons, variations in weather types and a regular circadian rhythm. These stimuli – in the form of changes in light, temperature, sound and smell – give us a sense of time passing throughout the day and help us fall asleep at night. All this is missing in space, where everyday life is monotone, and our senses are starved of variety.
“A natural daylight cycle is a gift we take for granted here on Earth. It influences our sleep and sense of time. You don’t have it in space. To resolve the issue, we developed light panels that simulate circadian rhythms using LED lighting. A solution like this can help improve astronauts’ quality of life,” explains space architect and co-founder of Saga Space Architects, Sebastian Aristotelis.
In addition to LED light panels, SAGA Space Architects is working on other initiatives, including bringing living organisms such as algae in space. Besides being able to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, algae is a fast-growing source of proteins and essential vitamins and minerals. The architects have started a collaboration with French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, who has helped them create different fragrances designed to give astronauts stimuli from Earth for the sense of smell.
Take the Kids to the Moon
A lunar habitat, freeze-dried food and existential questions! There are plenty of fun activities for the whole family. Besides dreaming their way on an exciting space adventure, the youngest space travelers can explore the many fascinating models of lunar landscapes and, of course, experience the moon habitat LUNARK for themselves.
Kids can also activate their creative senses and become space architects for a day, as they try their hand at building their own moon architecture in LEGO. And, of course, the existential questions posed at the exhibition invite us adults to talk with our kids about what impact daylight, smells, wind and weather have on our quality of life here on Earth.
This exhibition was created by SAGA Space Architects in collaboration with Danish Architecture Center.
The exhibition is sponsored by Beckett Fonden, the Danish Arts Foundation and the philanthropic association Realdania.
Thanks to go all our partners who contributed to the exhibition:
Facts about the Danish Architecture Center
The Danish Architecture Center is an international cultural attraction that creates engaging events and sparks debate about architecture and design. Here you can experience exhibitions, tours, events, shop designer products and enjoy the spectacular view of the city from the café’s large rooftop terraces.
Its financing comes from a public-private partnership between the association Realdania and the Danish State represented by the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Transportation and Housing.
About SAGA Space Architects
SAGA is a small Danish architectural studio specializing in space architecture. The firm consists of a passionate team of architects and engineers who are on a mission to help civilian and professional astronauts not just survive in space but thrive. SAGA designs analogue space habitats and architecture for extreme environments to prepare for the day when life in space goes mainstream.
LUNARK is the first project that SAGA has fully realized. It was made possible by more than 25 passionate crusaders, 50 private companies and 600 Kickstarter supporters. Without their support, the habitat and subsequent test mission would never have been possible.
Since its founding in 2018, the studio has won two architectural competitions on space habitats. The LUNARK project also received the prestigious Index Award in 2021 in the People’s Choice category. The Index Award honors designs that transform the world.
There is also a six-episode documentary on the space experiment and Sebastian and Karl-Johan’s 100-day mission in the lunar habitat produced by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation – DR.