Spacebuster: Currently Inflating All Over New York City


[All images courtesy Doug Johnston. Click for larger version.]

Stuck on the Wes Coast but Intrigued by a press release for Spacebuster, a mobile, inflatable structure designed to “transform public spaces of all kinds into points for community gathering,” Life Without Buildings enlisted the help of Doug Johnston to cover the Manhattan opening of the latest exhibition by Storefront for Art and Architecture. Spacebuster, the work of Berlin-based interdisciplinary group Raumlabor, is essentially a giant bubble that expands from the back of the van. Inflatable architecture at its simplest and most mobile (compared to…oh say, a lunar base). As is the nature of such structures, the shape and form of the translucent inflatable will adjusts to its surroundings, creating a different pavilion-like condition wherever it is parked – from open field to a narrow lot beneath the High Line.

During the preview, Raumlabor affirmed that anyone could build their own Spacebuster, as the materials used are incredibly simple: a fan, some plastic sheeting or visqueen, double-sided tape, and some weights to shape the bubble and hold it down. Such an egalitarian architecture seems like an appropriate concept for the current economy. What better time than a increasingly global recession/depression to reclaim public space, bring people together, and create a new sense of community? All this through a quasi-utopian, nomadic architecture. Of course, most readers probably know that, like social utopias, inflatable architecture isn’t a new idea. Well known for their inflatables, Ant Farm espoused similar designs, even going so far as to publish an “INFLATOCOOKBOOK” (pdf download via Let’s Re-Make) in 1971 that gathered their collective knowledge as “inflatoexperts.” For Ant Farm, the inflatable was a vision of “what environment can mean when a person takes it in his own hands, feeling it and molding new forms.” It was also an unfortunately unrealized means of creating “moment villages” around the nomadic rock concert lifestyle.

[All images courtesy Doug Johnston. Click for larger version.]

The original Spacebuster, then known as the Küchenmonument was installed in Germany and used as a community kitchen. Neighbors were invited out into public spaces to cook for one another (Here, I defer to Doug, who cites similar undetakings by WochenKlausur and Rirkrit Tiravanija). Raumlabor are interested relational aesthetics; in how people can interact with the architecture and the space. The inflatable is not only a practical, quick ‘n dirty piece of architecture – it also a spectacle. And when you’re trying to attract people to new ideas, a little spectacle never hurts. This new iteration will be used for hosting lectures, exhibitions, and screenings. A total of 10 Spacebuster events are planned as the roving piece of architecture travels throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. More info at Storefront for Art and Architecture.

&#183 Spacebuster by Raumlabor [Storefront for Art & Architecture]
&#183 The Collected Ant Farm posts [Life Without Buildings]

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