Outer Space & the City: Cohabitation Strategies with Interplanetary Infrastructures

Research Team
Dr. Marie-Pier Boucher (PI)
Dr. Alice Jarry
Dr. Bernard Foing
Dr. Emiliano Gandolfi
Dr. Pierre-Louis Patoine
Rouzbeh Akhbari
Majjd Al-Shihabi
Reka Gal
Guillaume Pascale
Gabrielle Simard
Lee Wilkins
Yolanda Zang


Grey, blue and red image of buildings breaking apart and floating away into the sky with text reading "It is tempting to compare the imaginary of the urban habitat with that of the space, conquest, the projections of terraforming Mars".

Grey, blue and red image of an urban neighborhood breaking up into pieces.
A dessert with a path through the center. Text at the bottom of the image reads "It seems that we occupy a space floating in between global and local, virtuality and actuality, plan and crust, terrestrial and extraterrestrial.
Video stills by Guillaume Pascale. Provocations for the Urbanization of Space Technology. Ars Electronica, 2021.
Today’s most important global telecommunication infrastructures are located in the geostationary orbit (GEO).  One satellite in the GEO can "see” 42% of the Earth while three satellites can cover the whole globe (Collis, 2009). A central issue with outer space telecommunication infrastructures is that while they facilitate most of our daily activities, they are not only out of sight, they are also out of reach.

The physical, technical, and economic limitations imposed on/by their accessibility act as hindrances to the possibility of informed civic engagement and creative adaptation.

In response to this problem of structural inequality, the project examines the material forms of this relation and the role of hybrid and participatory design in the construction of sustainable

interplanetary infrastructures of telecommunication.

At the intersection of Communication & Media Studies, Design & Urbanism, and Space Science & Technology, the project identifies strategies of co­habitation that give rise to unforeseen forms of informed participation & engagement as well as to sustainable connections between space telecommunication infrastructures, the built environment, and urban communities.

Through a series of activities that combine formation in research methods and techniques, literary and visual research, theoretical and practical workshops, ethnographic work and dissemination activities, the project will produce new reflexive tools for the creation of sustainable interplanetary infrastructures of telecommunication. 

A space station in the middle of an empty dessert area. There is a rocket in the middle of the image with text along the bottom: "In fact, do we still have our feet on the ground?"An apartment building floating in the air.

Critical Practices in
Materials and Materiality