Siyuan Xi

MArch I

A Space Odyssey on Another Side of Reality

Advised by Megan Panzano

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, supercomputer HAL is introduced as the sixth crew member on the trip to Jupiter. This defamiliarization in an extraterrestrial context equalized the artificially constructed computer and human. This parallel interrupts the “normal” understanding of fake and real, a relationship usually concealed on Earth.

Modernity is bounded to discretion. As claimed by Nietzsche, the moderns had become “walking encyclopedias” whose cover revealed nothing of the inside. This discretion is described as “masks” by Beatriz Colomina, as an important modern culture captured in Loos’s architecture. However, this discretion has been shaken by the radical interpersonal connectivity of digital media. We are confronted with a more transparent circumstance, influenced by our constant exposure to “fake” news, eccentric thoughts on social media like Twitter, and the giveaway of privacy, etc.

Like the extraterrestrial environment, digital media creates another space where norms are interrupted, irritating, and changing our lives in the physical world. The questions are: Can we use these spaces as opportunities to peep behind the “masks”? How can architecture respond to the digital age’s culture of revealing?

As a continuation of Kubrick’s fantasy, this thesis designs a series of interiors on a vast spaceship, which accommodate the everyday lives of its permanent residents. Factors like a 1.6-hour day-night cycle describe the normal settings on the ship, interrupting our familiar quotidian rhythm from Earth. They motivate the design of built environments in space, allowing us to rethink the familiarity of daily rituals within the context of the digital age.

Siyuan Xi, MArch I. View from space of a cylindrical object orbiting the planet. The object's exterior is solar panels, the interior is a photographic aerial view of a city.