Today is the centenary of Scott’s final log entry and what would strike an end to that ‘failed’ expedition to what was at the time, an area of our planet much less known about than even the heavens. As I write, I think of that expedition and what it say of human character and drive for knowledge. The advert for enlisting on the expedition told of terrible hardship, little pay, and almost certain death. And yet the expedition was manned. Manned by humans who wanted to know more and were determined to do so.
Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group has, in recent years, taken the torch so to speak and pointed it skyward. The antarctic has been unraveled some and has begun to tell of humans’ impact on this sphere in the void upon which we dwell. With this data, it is becoming increasingly imperative to research possibilities for what we will do if we if we ruin it.
The 2012 Space Xperience located in Curacao, of the Lesser Antilles, and designed by ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd] is what could be called the fourth step in space exploration. First we had the rockets and the plunge-to-earth reentry, then came the returnable Space Shuttle, then the private crafts of Virgin and others and now, a space port to service the ever realizing possibility of private space exploration.
I am going to include the architects’ statement because I think it sums up the project much better than I could paraphrase, but there are a few points I would like to highlight. First is the mention of the use of maritime and aviation building technologies. This is fantastic! I have a boating friend who remarks to me so often of how maritime constructive technologies reinvent themselves every few years and how strange it is that buildings have been built basically the same for the last one hundred. The second point is a question. There is talk of the trajectory through the building taken visitors ‘level by level down to where they started’. I am reminded of the Escher never ending stairs, waterfall. How does one achieve this dimensional feat?
The Curacao Ambition. The ambition of the intitiators Harry van Hulten and Ben Droste *) of the Space Xperience Curacao© BV [SXC], supported by the Curacao authorities and their entrepreneurs, is to create a major touristic attractor for the Caribbean, hosting the future operator for Galactic Travels, and offering a venue for international scientific space research. The SXC landmark building, designed by the internationally renowned Dutch design studio ONL **), will be built as a spaceship, applying maritime and aviation techniques on the building body of the SXC. The SXC will be an inspiring venue both for the international scientific community, the future astronauts and for the tourists who will bring home a memorable Experience from the Space Xperience Curacao.
SXC Spaceship. The building body of the SXC spaceship is conceived as to evoke the power of the rocket engines to take Spaceship II into outer space, and at the same time evoke the lightness of the Spaceship glider swirling down to Earth. The shape of the SXC evokes strength and elegance, boldness and sensitivity. The dynamic shape connects earth and sky. The shape is intended to attract both professionals and tourists alike. The design and the styling of the SXC spaceship is intentionally related to state-of-the-art developments in automotive, naval, aerospace and environmental design.
Routing. The trajectory through the immersive Experience leads the public level by level down to where they statrted. The public swirls down like the Spaceship II glider does. The public experiences a thrill which rivals the excitement of the astronauts making the 100km trip into outer space, but with different means. The routing of the Space Xperience steps level by level down to ground floor level. The levels grow bigger each step, relating the Experience of space travels to always larger environmental and universal subjects: from the International Space Station to Spaceship II, from the Earth’ atmosphere and global climate change to the expanding Universe, and finally down to themes related to the deep sea space. A combined ticket for tourists of this Space Xperience and the Seaquarium’s Submarine immersion Experience will be considered.
Design: ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]
Lead designers: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd
Design team: Marthijn Pool, Chris Kievid, Martin Henriksen, Yvonne Beying, Christian Tschersich
Client: Janssen de Jong, B.A.C. Droste & Harry van Hulten
website SXC: www.spaceexperiencecuracao.com