What are the things I should fo­cus on when de­sign­ing a sleek air­lock on an ad­vanced space­ship?

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Jessie Arm­strong, Eng­land

An­swer

Mar­cel replies

When you’re look­ing to de­sign a spe­cific en­vi­ron­ment like an air­lock from scratch, a key thing to re­mem­ber is that it isn’t go­ing to be a stand­alone piece. It’s part of a larger ve­hi­cle or en­vi­ron­ment, so you need to con­sider not just the air­lock’s de­sign, but how it fits in with your lo­ca­tion’s con­struc­tion and pur­pose. The air­lock acts as both a pas­sage­way and a safety fea­ture, so it needs to look like some­thing that can be used by in­di­vid­u­als, but also some­thing that has a lot of vis­ual den­sity.

I like to fo­cus on shapes early on in the de­sign to con­vey the heav­i­ness and bulk of the door, some­thing that can with­stand the pres­sure dif­fer­ence. Ma­te­rial choices are key, not just for func­tion, but also to match your set­tle­ment or ship. A dock­ing sta­tion is likely to see a lot of back and forth, re­flected in ad­di­tional wear and tear. Whereas an out­post with a skeleton crew of sci­en­tists is go­ing to be a lot cleaner and more ster­ile.

I pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to read­abil­ity, not just in the vi­su­als but also in the el­e­ments in the scene. Most peo­ple aren’t fa­mil­iar with air­locks, so I need to con­vey the use of the sur­round­ing equip­ment with sim­ple and clear ideas.

Any aes­thetic com­plex­ity comes from tai­lor­ing the scene to feel more tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced. In this piece, I want to cre­ate a sci­en­tific mod­ule, as part of a larger habi­tat – just one of many out­posts in the galaxy.

Sur­gi­cal ma­chin­ery was the in­spi­ra­tion to cre­ate a ster­ile, min­i­mal­is­tic theme to the scene. I want to add an el­e­ment that show­cases that the en­vi­ron­ment was utilised by hu­mans. The space suit also acts as a recog­nis­able scal­ing de­vice.

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