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ETALAB - Extra-Terrestrial Architecture Laboratory

Competition | ETALAB | Softroom | Sarah Wigglesworth | Models

Etalab's response to the Tate in Space Brief


ETALAB envisages Tate in Space as both a real and virtual experience.

Representing the ultimate synthesis of artistic and scientific endeavour, it would dock at the International Space Station (ISS) as its cultural component. It will also be able to detach itself from the ISS and travel to the moon or follow its own path through the solar system.


etalab - external image of Tate in Space attached to International Space Station

click to enlarge image (1000x700 pixels)

etalab - external image of Tate in Space attached to International Space Station

click to enlarge image (1000x700 pixels)

Tate in Space is designed to respond to the environment of outer space and to the unpredictable needs of artists, curators and visitors engaged with post-millennial extra-terrestrial art.

For example it is unlikely that paintings or sculptures as we currently know them would be displayed there.

Organisation of Tate in Space
Unlike current galleries on earth, Tate in Space will exist in micro-gravity with the possibility of introducing artificial gravity. Liberated from the need for conventional architectural elements such as floors and staircases, movement of people will be three dimensional, omni-directional and fluid. This will create a dynamic new physical and temporal relationship where people, artworks and architecture interact in zones of zero and partial gravity.

etalab - interior image of tate in space
click to enlarge image (1000x700 pixels)

The envelope or 'skin' of the gallery, formed from a 'smart' material based on biomechanics, has reactive characteristics similar to those of muscles and the nervous system. Using state of the art electronics and pneumatics, sensors embedded within the skin will respond to electronic signals, creating a continuous evolution of dynamically changing form and space. This also allows responsive control over the colour, transparency and translucency of the envelope.

Acting as a spine and zero gravity zone, a transparent rotating cylinder aligned along the gallery’s central axis will be connected to the skin by a series of arms, which will also act as circulation guides. Floor, wall and ceiling will merge into one continuous ever-changing surface that can be walked on by visitors at different levels of gravity. Windows, seamlessly integrated into the skin, will expand and contract like the lens of an eye or camera, presenting the visual wonder of the universe, with close-up views of distant planets, the moon, the earth and the other Tates. Sealed and pressurised, the responsive envelope will maintain a comfortable internal environment as it reacts to the extreme range of temperatures in space. A spectacular café will float around the gallery in a flexible bubble.

The flexibility of the envelope allows Tate in Space itself to develop into a solar sail, as a means of sustainable propulsion for its solo voyages. Solar energy will also be harnessed through the use of photovoltaic panels.

etalab - interior image of tate in space
click to enlarge image (1000x700 pixels)


etalab - interior of tate in space Construction
The initial phase of construction proposes a 4.5 x 9 metre module, similar to NASA's existing TransHab, that plugs into the ISS. Its presence established, Tate's first projects will be relayed live to earth via webcam.
At a later stage its building components, comprising smart materials developed by NASA, will be sent up by shuttle in compacted form, folding out to much larger dimensions upon arrival.

Getting there
It is envisaged that by the time Tate in Space opens, visitors will have easy and affordable access via a sustainable and low cost means of transport. This could make Tate in Space the ultimate destination gallery.

Interactive Model
ETALAB has designed an interactive interface for experiencing the changing form of its proposal for Tate in Space. This contains a three-dimensional model that can be accessed online and modified in real-time. It will enable Tate’s artists and curators to define, visualise and work within numerous new configurations of form and gravity, be they fixed or changing, random or prescribed. These characteristics can then be applied to the physical Tate in Space. In due course the interface would be developed using advanced computer programming.
As the project evolves, this curatorial tool could provide the basis for a personalised interface for all web users. Preferences could be stored as data files enabling visitors to quickly switch between different versions of their own 'personal tate'.
ETALAB sees Tate in Space as a project of unparalleled potential, developing organically in line with new technology and unfettered artistic horizons – the possibilities are as infinite as space itself.

etalab wireframe modeletalab wireframe modeletalab wireframe modeletalab wireframe modeletalab wireframe model


before you click
The interactive model is in shockwave format, you will be prompted if you do not have the correct plug-in
Estimated loading time over a 56K dialup modem connection is 15 mins.
It will take another minute to load locally (mesh creation).
To change the form and rotation speed of the interactive model, simply click
on and drag the toggles. The interior may also be explored by swapping the
camera and using the arrow keys to navigate.
Enable the sound on your computer as the interactive model includes audio.

For more information on ETALAB's Tate in Space scheme, go to www.etalab.com.

© ETALAB 2002