Ultra Space

Ultra Space is a CCAM research initiative that probes how we see, inhabit, interact with, and understand extreme environments. We engage critical, transdisciplinary inquiry into our unfolding sci-fi space futures. Culture & creativity play a vital role in our evolution as interplanetary creatures—how can we work together to mold this new era? What are our responsibilities as Stewards of the Anthropocosmos?  Each year the Ultra Space, in collaboration with the Yale School of Architecture and the MIT Space Exploration Initiative, teams up to send students on a Zero-G parabolic flight to activate and test their space designs ranging from wearable space architecture to meaningful artifacts.


In the Spring of 2021 CCAM Director Dana Karwas initiated a space architecture course in collaboration with Ariel Ekblaw, Yale ‘14 alum and Director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative. The Yale School of Architecture graduate course, The Mechanical Artifact: Ultra Space, was inspired by astronaut Don Petit’s 2019 Portraits of a Planet exhibit at CCAM.  Students in the class questioned interplanetary design by considering the spatial (or infinite) parameters presented in weightlessness At the end of the course a few students and their artifacts flew on a zero gravity parabolic research flight. Learn more about he course here.

Curricular collaborations at CCAM allow students and faculty support for interdisciplinary projects and research. CCAM works with faculty from Yale College and the professional schools at Yale to increase student engagement through exciting curricular opportunities.

Read the Yale News Article here.

The Mechanical Artifact: Ultra Space met over the course of Spring 2021 and was taught by Dana Karwas, a critic at the Yale School of Architecture and director of Yale’s Center for Collaborative Arts and Media, and Ariel Ekblaw, a lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture and Director of the MIT Space Exploration Initiative. The course served as a curricular collaboration between the CCAM, the Yale School of Architecture, and the MIT Space Exploration Initiative. Every Wednesday for nearly two hours, ten graduate students met with instructors and Teaching Fellow Rishab Jain to explore questions like:

How can we evolve a new culture of off-planet life, and what are the artifacts that will support this culture? How will the histories, philosophies, and myths of the cosmos invert our relationship to space once we get beyond the scientific and technological achievements needed to maintain human life there? How, in the new Space Age, will we bring our values, pursuits, and creativity with us? As the space population increases how will democratization, colonization, and urbanization be considered?

The Mechanical Artifact: Ultra Space was designed to engage these questions and to connect architecture and design students to an unfolding sci-fi space future, and to bring together the different perspectives and expertise across the CCAM, the Yale School of Architecture, and the MIT Space Exploration Initiative.

Students worked in teams to design, build, test, and deploy a space artifact of their own, which were then included in a project slot on a parabolic research flight. One student from the course also had the opportunity to be a flier on a zero-G flight.

The students’ culminating projects can be read about here. Each product served as a mechanism, device, lesson, story, or experience for creatively designing for the zero-G environment. Students were able to grow and learn in practice and skill from this practical exercise in designing for space, while at the same time engaging thoughtfully about their role in the future of space exploration.

Image Credit: Steve Boxall Zero-G

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