The Planetarium has historically represented the physical and metaphysical manifestation of a culture’s understanding of space. This typology, a product of cultural form and technological production has allowed us to engage space through the lens of the technical and the sublime – yet, its fundamental relationship between subject and audience has evolved little over the last few centuries.
The Void attempts to rethink the relationship between subject and audience through the use of advanced visualization technologies in combination with fundamental spatial concepts. In a sense, the design of the contemporary planetarium is the design of two counterparts – the physical and the digital.
The project begins by looking at the typologies of the science museum and the planetarium – the former being a box subdivided by a series of rooms while the latter is an object of singular space. While the two types both have unique strengths, our concept for the contemporary planetarium hybridizes the two elements through the simultaneous embrace of rooms and singular space.
Formally, the project attempts to reinterpret the singular programmatic aspect of the planetarium typology by creating diverse experiences within a singular volume through the manipulation of surface conditions. The result is an uneven surface that is reminiscent of a landscape. The condition of the floor plate is enhanced by digital projections which reformats the basic ground the audience stands upon. This marriage between the physical and digital self of the building creates an experience where the subject can experience our universe first hand through a broad spectrum of scales. This experience can range from the surface of mars to the impossibly vast scale of our galaxy.
The second major move in the building is a creating further sense of qualitative difference within the open floor plate by establishing a series of floating walls that create pseudo rooms. These walls support the expansive waffle framed roof while transferring load down to the self supporting floor plate at strategic points. When these straight walls are combined with an undulating floor plate, high points and low points along the floor slab eliminates the need for doors between areas while allowing for broad continuous views through the interior. When enhanced with visualization technology, the experience of the space is a myriad of ongoing installations all different in scales that can be seen simultaneously yet experienced differently.
The planetarium of the future rejects the one dimensional subject and audience relationship and embraces spatial principles to encourage wanderlust and digital technologies to enhance individually tailored experience.