Chapter V
Design

Despite the scientific prejudice, subjective experience is one of the most objective things we can deal with.

- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Experience is determined only by experience.  This practically means that we must give up the demand that all nature be embraced in any formula, either simple or complicated.

- P. W. Bridgman

Nature ... builds the best part of a house.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Much of architecture, from the posts and beams of the Parthenon to the Pontiac Silverdome, can be seen as a struggle against gravity.  Without gravity, such basic concepts as "floor", "wall", and "ceiling" lose much of their meaning.  It seems reasonable to expect that the state of gravity in an environment should have a significant influence on its architecture.

The visionary work on artificial-gravity space station and space colony design has made allowances for such things as high population density, lightweight modular construction from non-organic space materials, artificial weather and climate control, and even the novelty of a toroidal landscape.  But the unusual nature of the gravity itself does not seem to have had much influence.  The assumption seems to have been that the differences between natural and artificial gravity could be ignored.  The differences do become insignificant as the radius approaches infinity, but the first artificial-gravity habitats - if they are ever built - are likely to be significantly smaller than that.  Furthermore, there is a philosophical issue: whether the architecture should deny the environmental oddities, or respond to them - perhaps even accentuate them.

Architecture should respond to the ambient environment - cultural as well as physical.  The physical environment exerts a powerful influence on culture, but historical reference is also important - particularly when a culture embarks on colonization.  The problem is to develop an architecture that is adapted physically as well as culturally to a gravitational environment that no one has yet experienced.