Space Scrim is a vision for a site-specific planetarium of the future located along downtown Tampa’s waterfront in the Channel District. We conceived of Space Scrim as an inside-out planetarium, a tool to engage the public with time, place and space from the scale of the street to the scale of the galaxy and beyond. Our proposal inverts the traditional planetarium by wrapping the exterior of the building with a scrim that serves as an information interface to signal our relative position in space. The scrim acts as an urban billboard, allowing the public to engage with the program without even entering the building. Pedestrians traversing the city streets could look up at the Space Scrim and track the position of celestial bodies or objects in space such as the International Space Station, watching their movements telegraphed onto the building’s skin.
Inside the Space Scrim, a spiraling circulation pathway generated through key site lines and view corridors enables participants to visualize where they are in the world. The pathway leads to the Heads-Up Display or HUD Hall, where the scrim, now viewed from the interior, serves as a filter allowing participants to gaze at interactive information while looking through the building’s façade to the horizon and skyline beyond. Leaving HUD Hall, the pathway shifts inside and outside of the scrim, widening into various viewing platforms, including one aligned with Polaris, the North Star, and another positioned to allow views of rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the other side of the state. The circulation sequence culminates at a rooftop deck with spaces for stargazing and observing the night sky.
An important aspect of the design is that we do not consider Space Scrim to be a stand-alone structure, but a barnacle or appendage to another building, an architectural intervention springing forth from a typical urban mixed-use complex. The Channel District of downtown Tampa was an opportune site to explore as it is in the midst of major redevelopment and is slated to be the new site of Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) when it relocates. Space Scrim reimagines the traditional planetarium building as an interactive urban element with a small physical footprint, but a large visual impact, engaging the public to help us to comprehend our place in the universe.