Biography : Barbara Imhof is a space architect, researcher and educator. With an architecture and space studies background, she works across disciplines in her daily work - ranging from the arts to (space) engineering, natural sciences and humanities. Barbara is the co-founder and co-manager of LIQUIFER Systems Group that comprises experts from the above-mentioned fields. Projects focus on feasibility and scenario studies as well as designing and building mock-ups and prototypes. LIQUIFER partners with renowned research institutions and well-known enterprises to conduct research and technology development through contracts with the European Space Agency, the space industry and with the EU-Framework Programmes and other funding bodies.
The talk will highlight expeditions as part of my collaborations with artists and my work in the LIQUIFER team in designing for human space exploration. A loop will be generated in which art, science, engineering and technology converge. In brief the following projects will be presented:
Deep Sea Minding with an insert of project RegoLight)
Antarctic Biennale Expedition with an insert of insert of the greenhouse project EDEN ISS
SHEE habitat in MOONWALK Mars Mission simulations
Expeditions are defined as journeys undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose.
The expeditions will take the audience from the depth of the sea to the coldest place on earth, and further to a place in Europe which resembles Mars. They were undertaken for exploring the arts, connecting science and art and testing developed technologies for space exploration in analogue environments.
The project Deep Sea Minding is a 3-year interdisciplinary project led by the Danish artist group Superflex who investigates habitats for fish shared with humans under and above water, and examines social behaviour of fish both artistically and scientifically. As part of the 2018 expedition to the South Pacific, the newly emerged island of Honga Tonga was visited which also found NASA's interest in exploring how life emerges from alien worlds.
How to start building with local resources in situ was explored through Solar Sintering, firstly demonstrated in 1992 by Allen, Hines, McKay and Morries (1). The insight for the experimental set-up on Hunga Tonga was derived from project RegoLight, a EU-funded technology project with the aim to advance the technology readiness levels and to demonstrate how interlocking building elements in three automated printing campaigns including in vacuum can be solar sintered.
The Antarctic Biennale expedition explored a place on earth which is the closest one can come to space on terrestrial grounds due to its very extreme nature. The Antarctic Biennale was conceived by the Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev and curated by Nadim Samman who described the endeavour as follows,
"We are here because Antarctica is place that is communicated as being central to our understanding of planetary systems, such as climate change, our climate sciences, the geophysical sciences. It is a place that everyone is told about. A place that everyone is expected to care about. A place that grabs the imagination, that seems both otherworldly and intensely connected to everything else on this planet. We're here because Antarctica is so central to many of our contemporary narrative, and yet most people will never go there. We choose to go here in order to find a way to communicate, perhaps, an undiscovered aspect of Antarctica's cultural potential."
Antarctica houses many research stations from countries all over the world and is a testbed for human space exploration. The EDEN ISS greenhouse was developed as EU-funded project and is currently located 400 metres South of the Neumayer III station being prepared for its second year. It will supply the overwintering crew of the German station with fresh vegetables grown from a semi-closed loop aeroponic production on 10 m2 which yields more than 5 kg of harvest each week.
Rio Tinto, in the South of Spain, is a well-established Martian analogue. In 2016 in a two-week simulation, the Self-deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments (SHEE) - designed to house a two-person crew for two weeks - was tested as part of project MOONWALK (human-rover collaboration).
(1) Carlton C. Allen, Joy A. Hines, David S. McKay, Richard V. Morris, Sintering of lunar glass and basalt, February 1992, DOI: 10.1063/1.2844966
- Samman N., Charrière J., As We Used to Float, publisher K. Verlag, September 2018, ISBN 978-3-947858-00-2
- Armstrong R. (ed.), Star Ark. A Living, Self-Sustaining Spaceship, Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2017, p. 287ff
- Imhof B., Gruber P. (eds.), Built to Grow - Blending architecture and biology, edition Angewandte, Birkhäuser publishers, 2015; print version and ebook, ISBN 978-3-0356-0920-2