To affect valuable change, design solutions had to acknowledge the spatial limitation, functions, and feasibility in space.
Constraints of the existing spacecraft had a major spatial limitation, whereas the two conflicting user profiles framed the functionality of the interior and the feasibility of design decisions.
The client’s requirement was to create a cost-effective yet aesthetically pleasing commercial space station. Other factors such as flexibility or multipurpose use of space and the practicality of each design choice are also weighed in the final design.
Stressors and Biophilic Design
Suppose one looks at the most widely inhabited space station, the ISS. In that case, the utilitarian interior looks chaotic and does not create an aesthetic or beautiful sense of place, even though it is technologically advanced.
The aim was to enrich interiors that are overruled by engineering priorities, including biophilic design principles. Biophilia refers to the innate human connection to nature that can improve building occupants’ health and overall well-being. Biophilic design works based on the Attention Restoration Theory, which asserts that people can concentrate and perform better after spending time in nature or even looking at scenes of nature.
A major design constraint was the limiting volume of the existing space station shell. The different functional volumes required for varying capacities from a crew of two to six were analyzed with the help of varying volume standards.
Using these standards, a chart was compiled to visualize how the different volume requirements change in the functions for different crew numbers (for the crew of two, four, and six).
At a crew of six, the model of a balanced volume distribution breaks. With the cumulative total volume being 80.5 cubic meters, the sleeping quarters took up a massive amount of space. Optimizing the volume model solely based on adequate research space was not an answer since then the space allocated for crew quarters becomes void.
This trial and error method led us to choose the optimized number of crew, i.e., four, where the different functionalities could co-exist without massively reducing one another.
The outcome of this optimized volume distribution is shown in the table above.The sleeping quarters’ arrangements presented the most significant challenge because they take up the most amount of space, and they do not use spaces for the entire time. This led to the decision to avoid permanent sleeping quarters.
Optimizing for tourists leads to no research space, and optimizing uncrewed research missions leads to no room for the crew.
Hence, the workstation was made into a flexible space that could become an extension of the galley, as the storage and dining area for the tourists, when not in use for research missions. Through overlapping spaces that have multifunctional use, we created universal use, optimized for both users.