The City As A Spaceship
Interview with Dr. Susmita Mohanty
Susmita's fascination with space informs not only her appreciation of art, but also her experience of cities. "Living in Mumbai, I have often been inspired by things I see, especially in the shanties. You know, the challenges we face on spaceships are very similar to those facing cities -- especially in the slums."
This has sown the seed of a project called "Mumbai as a Spaceship", in which she hopes to transform a district of Mumbai in keeping with the tenants of spaceship design. "The challenges you see in the slums, like how to build a 25 square meter home for a family of four, is not that different from the challenges you face having to design a mid-deck of a crew transporter. Hygiene, air-revitalization, recycling, storage... storage is a big issue in space, astronauts live in cramped messy spaces! Privacy, odor and noise -- these are all problems I face as a spaceship designer, and these are faced by people right here in Mumbai living in chawls, slums and nano-houses.
"I really think hyper-dense cities like Tokyo or Mumbai face challenges that are very similar to spaceships. What's more, I think they are reciprocal. I wouldn't draw a line between space and Earth. Space is not removed from Earth, we are actually living on a planet! We live on a spaceship. I hate when people draw a line between the two. To me, there is no line."