“Every now and then you need… to build small, mysterious places where somehow, with a line, or a brush-stroke, with a flower or a light coming in through the window, for a brief moment or two, you come into contact with the universe.” — Ettore Sottsass
The planetarium is a portal to the cosmos, a vessel, a tangible glimpse into an otherwise mysterious domain. It is a dance between people and the universe, and must aid in a person’s ability to reconcile their position in space and in time — without people there is no space to observe.
The life of the planetarium has evolved — from tiny mechanical planets buzzing around the heads of an audience, to smoke and mirror light shows and IMAX video. Technology has changed, but the purpose to teach and inspire has not.
Overtime, the public’s interest in outer space has waned; globalization has increased access to an extent that hope and imagination has been rendered nonessential and funding for space exploration has come under scrutiny in the face of mounting world problems. Our challenge is to reinvest in our scientists and their research, harmonize our collective vision of space, and feed our thirst to continually question our place in the cosmos.
Our planetarium is not (yet) a building, it is a proposal for communion. It is a dialogue between forces: the architect and the scientist, the visitor and the curator, the site and it’s condition. The architecture sets the stage for the scientists and artists to depict the cosmos, show off newly captured parts of our universe and convey the next steps planned for their study. This conversation is a matrix of moments, organized by levels of intimacy and cognitive activity: they represent an individual’s story as they engage with both physical and intangible space, and permanent and ethereal memories. As an ever-changing platform for new research and technology; the architecture of the planetarium will set the stage for people to engage with the scientist’s new work and ideas.
The planetarium as we know it is a product of Earth; and because humans have but one point-of-view, it should read as such. A building created by both the physical and mental scales of lived life: the transition from busy city street to a quiet seat in the corner of a room, and the awareness of an idea from conception to understanding. We are defined by the confluence of these scales; along which are moments that shape our perception, memory, and gradually, our identity.
In the moment, we are simultaneously present and awaiting for the potential of what’s ahead. Guided by power in responsible hands: hope blossoms.