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Space sight by Karin Sawetz, Feb 2010

The design of a toilet for zero gravity rooms

This Fashionoffice Insight is about the creation of space. Isn't space the raw material of architects in general; if on earth or in the space where astronauts have to live?

In February 2010, Fashionoffice has got news from the Ohio State University (US) with the presentation of the biological engineering student Monica Okon who is designing a toilet for rooms with zero gravity. Two months earlier, the Viennese Barbara Imhof from the architecture group 'Liquifer' has spoken at the symposium 'Architecture Beyond the Earth's Horizon' about her work as a space designer. And in November 2009, La Biennale di Venezia has announced that the Japanese born Kazuyo Sejima will be the director of the International Architecture Exhibition 2010 in Venice. Kazuyo Sejima about her ideas for the next Biennale: "We are now well into the 21st Century. ... One potent point of departure could be the boundaries and adaptation of space."

Kazuyo Sejima's space is on earth. Probably the idea of architect Sejima whose signature are open rooms with the integration of the nature around, is following the socio-political reality of migration with the falling boundaries between the nations, the evolving consciousness for environmental friendly living and the more public lifestyle of Web 2.0 users. Kazumi Sejima's houses are made of open spaces that allow generous in- and outsights 2009/kazuyosejima11-2009.php.

Since November 2009, French philosopher and urban planner Paul Virilio exhibits off- and online the ideas of artists and thinkers on an interconnected world, borders, identity, and the replacement of the localisation of birth because of delocalization of jobs, political conflicts and also because of climate changes. In the video on, Virilio argues that one of the reasons for the exhibition is that already in 2008, 36 million people had been living replaced from their birth land and it is predicted the figures will grow to a billion in the next half century. The exhibition ‘Native Land, Stop Eject‘ with main focus on climate change runs from 5 Dec 2009 until 21 Feb 2010 at the Kunsthal Charlottenborg.

There are other designers who have chosen the non-earthly space; such as the Ohio State University student Monica Okon or the Viennese architect Barbara Imhof.

Video: Monica Okon, who was an intern at NASA’s John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and her mentor NASA research scientist Nancy Hall about designing for space. "For example, how do you handle an astronaut going into the bathroom in a reduced gravity environment? If you think of everything floating, you cannot just go in a traditional toilet..." says Nancy Hall

Barbara Imhof has studied architecture in Vienna, London, Los Angeles, etc. and finished her studies with a diploma from the University for Applied Arts, Vienna. In 2003/4, she has worked for the Mars mission project of the NASA and created a simulated living space for the astronauts' training on earth. You can find more information about Barbara Imhof's projects on

Karin Sawetz is journalist, media researcher and fashion scientist (Mag. Dr. phil.). >

Source: Original article with video on


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