The Shape of Space

In the 1970s, NASA brought together scientists, planners, architects, and designers to refine and visualize proposals for orbital space habitats. Their extraordinary renderings placed an emphasis on the unnatural scale and perspective geometries of these new forms. Reading these images alongside works of architectural history, science fiction, and philosophy can help us find a new language for talking about environmental conditions on and off our home planet.

What the orbital space habitats designed for NASA in 1975 can teach us about living in new geometries.




  • Alan Thomas
  • Barbara Penner
  • Simon Sadler

Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas is a columnist for Places. He is Editorial Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago Press and a photographer specializing in urban landscape.

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Barbara Penner

Barbara Penner is a columnist for Places. She is Senior Lecturer in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

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David Heymann

David Heymann is a columnist for Places. He is an architect, and the Harwell Hamilton Harris Regents Professor in Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin.

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Simon Sadler

Simon Sadler is a columnist for Places. He teaches the history and theory of architecture, design, and urbanism across several programs at the University of California, Davis, where he is a professor in the Department of Design.

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