Optical illusions to keep Astronauts sane?

20 07 2010

DUS Architects' Unlimited Urban Woods exterior. Credit: Pieter Kers

DUS Architects, a public architecture firm out of Amsterdam, have recently premiered a public art piece called, “Unlimited Urban Woods.”  It’s essentially a forest-in-a-box.  With strategically-placed mirrors, the effect of “true” space – of standing in a vast, ordered orchard of trees – is apparently uncanny.

While intended to provide residents of dense urban areas an easy way to (at least psychologically) feel like they can escape the “urban jungle,” another practical use immediately came to my mind.  There are environments far more cramped and limiting than even the densest centers of glass, steel, and concrete.

For long-term space exploration missions, might something like this be far more effective than “virtual reality,” which forces you to look at some kind of electronic screen and shatters your brain’s acceptance of the illusion?  The trade-off is, of course, space.  One can’t fit a room like this inside a hard drive.  But perhaps it would be worth it?

Something to think about.

DUS Architects' Unlimited Urban Woods interior. Credit: Pieter Kers

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