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Space out: future worlds, imagined architecture + a loaded Lit Gallery

Weekends are prime time for the more involved undertakings on the to do list—painting the bathroom, meal planning, pondering the future of humanity, etc. When you’re mulling over the Great Unknown it helps to know a guy. That guy is Fred Scharmen: designer, researcher, author, and professor of architecture and urban design. Scharmen’s out-of-this-world field of expertise? Theoretical future worlds, how architects represent them, and who they’d hypothetically home—the sorts of speculative endeavors beyond the edge of traditional architecture.

Two years ago, Scharmen did us the immense honor of introducing a new 20x200 Space Edition,
Cylinder Endcap AC75-1883 1920—one of a dozen or so paintings from a 1970s project envisioning life in a NASA space settlement. This spring, he penned this brilliant piece on Jeff Bezos’s “watered-down version of nostalgia for yesterday’s future” in which he asks, “Have we really learned anything in the past 50 years about how to plan for a better human future?” The article features another Space Edition, also one of the renderings produced to accompany pioneering physicist Gerard O’Neill’s 1970s collaborative study imagining the expansion of human life beyond earth.

If the smart, savvy, articulate sort of space talk in that article is up your alley, we highly recommend Scharmen’s brand new book on the space colonization project referenced above. As
Space Settlements spells out, the body of work that resulted from that study is both a historical benchmark and a mine of inspiration for modern explorations in architecture, outer space and other space.

Lucky for us, Scharmen had time to squeeze in a Literary Gallery. Needless to say, his is not the average assortment of book and art pairings—it’s full of experimental structures, moon maps, architectural musings, fantasy machines and more. Sneak a peek at some of his pairings below, then pop over to the blog for more.  
— Team 20x200

A lot of the things I get interested in are things that have to do with the future and with space. That future could be next year, a century from now, or it could be a future from the past, and that space could be architectural space, the space of cities and worlds, social space, or even outer space. Visual art and books are both terrific tools for thinking about how and why we make spaces for the future.  — Fred Scharmen, author of Space Settlements

Space Settlements and Torus Interior AC75-2621 5718

Residential Web and Radical Suburbs

Placing Outer Space and South Side of the Moon

Torus Cutaway AC75-1086-1 5725 and The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space

The Architecture of Closed Worlds and Palm Springs Pacer

195 Yachts, Barges, Cargo Lines, Tankers, and Other Ships and The Dream Machines

Infinite Detail and You

Plate 367: Band-tailed Pigeon and Silent Spring

Hidden Figures and Tempo of the City: I. Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, Manhattan.

prettymaps (la) and Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies

The 411 on Fred Scharmen

I teach architecture and design at Morgan State University in Baltimore. I'm also a writer and designer with an active practice and a brand new book out, about NASA's 1975 plans for giant cities in space.