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The Technical Aspect of Space Architecture: Interview with architect Julian Ocampo Salazar

The Technical Aspect of Space Architecture: Interview with architect Julian Ocampo Salazar
by Marco Dentesano and Nicolò Zennaro

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Following an inspiring lecture within the Architecture for Outer Space course held by architect Julian Ocampo Salazar, two students, Marco Dentesano and Nicolò Zennaro, had the unique opportunity to discuss with him the challenges that await this emerging branch of the profession.


During the lecture, architect Salazar shared with the students a series of fascinating projects curated within the BIG studio for which he works. After presenting the terrestrial projects that shaped him in his early years, he moved on to illustrate the space projects. One of the projects he delved into in greater detail was the "Project Olympus," for which he presented not only a general development plan but also a detailed construction of a single habitat.


Following the exposition of the technical constraints for building this type of habitat, Marco and Nicolò asked some questions focusing mainly on safety and the use of local materials for the construction.


In response to the question regarding the structuring of safety layers for different internal and external atmospheric pressures, the architect responded with wisdom and pragmatism. He emphasized the importance of redundancy, stating that "something must fail four times in order to fail for real," and that is why his habitat has four independent pressurization zones: two for living spaces and two for "exchange zones," such as spaces for EVA (extra vehicular activities) preparation. This approach aims to maximize the safety and flexibility of space environments. Furthermore, he highlighted how radiation poses one of the main challenges, to which he responded by designing each perimeter wall with maximum thickness to ensure adequate protection.


On the issue of using local materials for the construction of space outposts, the architect emphasized the need to further explore this topic in future developments. He admitted that some complex components, such as the common anchoring mechanism between spacecraft, will need to be shipped from Earth. However, he stressed that the idea of using local materials is a goal to pursue in the later stages of the space venture.


In conclusion, the interview with architect Julian Ocampo Salazar offered a thorough and enlightening look into the world of space architecture. His responses highlighted the importance of safety, well-being, and innovation in design.

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