At the 23rd Milan Triennale International Exhibition, SOM explores the future of architecture in outer space


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) presents one of four specially commissioned installations at the center of the Milan Triennale 2022 international exhibition. “Unknown Unknowns: An Introduction to Mysteries”, which runs from July 15 to December 11 , looks beyond the known territory of planet Earth. SOM’s installation, titled “Decalogue for Space Architecture,” continues a line of research the company has pursued over years of research: how can we design the conditions for humans to thrive in space?

Curated by Ersilia Vaudo, astrophysicist and director of diversity at the European Space Agency, “Unknown Unknowns” will feature works from an international array of artists, researchers and designers. The exhibition will explore themes such as the challenges for architecture in the light of new perspectives, such as the way of living in space.

“Our installation examines the ways we can make everyday life outside of Earth’s atmosphere not only possible, but comfortable and joyful,” said SOM partner Colin Koop. “It’s a new goal for spatial architecture. The design must provide protection against the intense conditions of outer space, operate with maximum autonomy and, at the same time, reproduce the environment we are used to on Earth.

While previous space habitats have served short-lived missions, relying on supplies brought in from Earth, SOM speculates on ten themes designers should consider when considering a permanent, long-lasting presence for spacecraft. humanity in space, unrelated to our home planet.

“We’ve tried to highlight ways to think about the challenges that future architects of space will face without pointing out specific solutions,” said Georgi Petrov, Senior Principal, SOM. “Our goal is to spark the imagination of visitors and foster discussion, rather than advocating for a specific design.”

SOM collaborated with Dotdotdot, a Milan-based multidisciplinary design studio, to create an audio-visual installation that showcases the concepts that are expected to define the next generation of extraterrestrial architecture. Each theme is represented by text, video animation and soundscape created by Dotdotdot in collaboration with propp for video production. The ten separate audio tracks are designed as instruments in a “sound orchestra”. As visitors move through the exhibition space, they will experience layered effects of sound and video.

“Decalogue for Space Architecture” builds on insights developed through SOM’s multi-year partnership with the European Space Agency to design the first permanent human settlement on the Moon, a concept that was showcased in Venice during the 2021 Architettura Biennale The Moon Village is a bold initiative that brings together experts in the fields of science and design to create an environment in which humans can survive and thrive on the Moon, ultimately providing an opportunity to explore the Moon in its entirety and advance our understanding of the universe.

Founded in 1923, the Triennale Milano International Exhibition is one of the most important events dedicated to architecture and design. It includes both the central thematic exhibition and a series of international pavilions, envisioned as a “constellation” of exhibitions and projects throughout the Palazzo dell’Arte. The 2022 exhibition brings together the work of more than 400 artists, designers, architects and scientists from more than 40 countries.

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