Yale-MIT Collaboration: UltraSpace


Steve Boxall, Zero-G

Steve Boxall, Zero-G

Space architecture projects for the Mechanical Artifact: Ultra Space course in partnership with the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM) and the School of Architecture at Yale. 


Tyler Krebs

Space Vase

by Tyler Krebs

What does it mean to grow a plant in space?

The initial ambition for this project was to rethink a simple everyday object for space: the vase. The vase is host to a complex ecological system, providing beauty and requiring attention. In space, the aesthetic and psychological impact of seeing and caring for a plant bears obvious benefits. Nasa has experimented with growing plants for consumption in space with their crop production system called “VEGGIE”. Though an important program, these plants are grown more for their practical potentials than their aesthetic benefits.

The object has some anthropomorphic qualities. Besides having “legs” and what appears to be “hair,” the object similarly represents the percentage of water that makes up a human body. In this way, the object forces us to consider the similarities between ourselves and the planet we were born on. The design of this vase accommodates  two different forces of gravity (zero and hyper). Weighted feet will ensure the object always lands in a proper orientation as microgravity shifts the plane Spring loaded feet ease the landing, and compress during the peak of hyper gravitational force. With the potential energy of the springs loaded, the object is ready to “hop” into the air and float around once the gravitational force is removed.

As the object floats around, it will bear a resemblance to the satellite Sputnik. The legs slot into a resin printed leg holder which adheres to the bottom of the globe. The globe itself is double sealed with a clear baggie. It is filled with water and a white wick (visible in the background) takes water up to the plant. A battery-powered magenta-colored light will allow the photosynthetic process to occur in the absence of sunlight. The object will float around in this watertight clear acrylic box.


Steve Boxall, Zero-G

Wearables for Orientation, Wearables for Communication

by Sam Landy

Can we feel gravity in space?

This project was born from a desire to reclaim the spatial awareness afforded to us on earth through a variety of senses: sight, touch, and inner ear feedback. Though the initial thought was to create a series of vibration-generating wearables that could be paired with distance sensors and a gyroscopic sensor to provide the user with real-time feedback regarding their physical orientation in a zero-gravity environment, the project amalgamated to be an outwardly expressive and performative piece, with colored LEDs replacing the vibration motors.

The final devices include four ultrasonic distance sensors - one worn on each of the wrists and feet, which were all fed into an Arduino worn on the chest. A gyroscopic sensor, also worn on the chest, provides the Arduino with information regarding the orientation of the wearer’s torso. The code interpreted this data, translating it into colors to be projected by the LEDs (situated on the wrists, feet, thighs, biceps, and chest).

The goal of this project is to obtain gyroscopic data translated to a blinking pattern. In practice, this was hard to achieve as the refresh rate of the entire system created some ambiguity in the blinking pattern of the LEDs. This project address the question of how many fabricated “senses” can be delivered through the same channels of expression. In this case, the devices are arguably delivering information that on earth would usually be sensed through the eyes and the inner ear, but communicating the information solely through a visual medium. As this information grows in complexity, and becomes harder to easily digest quickly, the initial simplicity of the only visual communication becomes much more cumbersome.


Yong Choi

Puzzle Box

by Yong Choi

How do we arrange things in Zero-G environment?

Storing objects requires the creation of  a single spatial system and allowing those objects to occupy that system. A container box which has a guideline for international uses is the example. Despite the different forms and scales of the shipping objects, they are packaged in a single module and can be delivered easily. Without the regulated system when we arrange or store things, we will be overwhelmed by them and occupants would be replaced by the products.

There are several ways to arrange objects. We stack, hang, or put the objects in boxes when we rarely use them. These ways are, of course, related to the gravity which is the nature in the earth. Shelves are at the height where we can reach easily, heavy things should be at the bottom of the storage, and clothes can be hung on the hanging bar. In this project, the way we store and utilize the various products we need in in Zero-G environment was explored. Which form of the spatial system can be adjusted, and how can the storage system itself occupy the space?