'Spacecraft as City: Divergent Urban Politics in Aerospace Practice and Fiction' 
by Valerie Olson (University of California, Irvine)

Convened by Perig Pitrou (MFO)


“The city as spacecraft” is a persistent architectural trope. For nearly a century, closed loop living designs have inspired urban planning in diverse and sometimes paradoxical ways. They can be used to rationalize colonial projects for total environmental control or they can provide templates for better stewardship of space and resources. A contemporary architectural thought-process less addressed by humanities and social science scholars is “spacecraft as city.” This talk examines how this idea manifests as an aspirational political form within normative professional architecture circles and within works of African and Indigenous speculative fiction. Distinct visions of home-like vehicles for heterogeneous inhabitants beyond Earth reveals divergent ideas about the future of the Western “urb” (Latin, walled space) in powerfully divergent ways. In those divergences, “the city” goes from being a terrestrial settlement to a shifting mode of cosmic transhabitation.

About the 'Living Cities' Lecture Series:

Considering the ecological challenges of urban planning projects, contemporary societies must invent new ways of coexisting with non-human life forms and improving the living conditions of humans, while integrating them more harmoniously into natural environments. While establishing a dialogue with the medical sciences, natural sciences and engineering sciences, the humanities and social sciences provide fundamental insights into the technical and social dynamics at work in the way cities are built and inhabited.

By inviting researchers engaged in a reflection on the multiple scales of relations between Life and Cities, the "Living Cities" Lecture Series aims to identify the main problems which need to be solved to learn how to better inhabit our planet.