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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Space Xperience Curacao in Hato Airport by ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]

June 15th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]

The Challenge

The ambition of the initiators of the Space Xperience Curacao [SXC] is to create a Caribbean touristic attractor, hosting the operator for Galactic Travels, and linking to international scientific space research. The SXC building will be built as a spaceship, applying maritime and aviation techniques to the building body. The SXC will be an inspiring venue both for the international scientific community, the future astronauts, and for the tourists who leave the SXC with a memorable experience.

Space Xperience Curacao exterior

  • Architects: ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]
  • Project: Space Xperience Curacao (SXC)
  • Location: Hato Airport Curacao
  • Design team:    Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd, Marthijn Pool, Martin Henriksen, Yvonne Beying, Christian Tschersich, Chris Kievid
  • Year of  design completion: December 2008
  • Client: Space Xperience Curacao initiators: Ben Droste , Harry van Hulten; XCOR Aerospace: Developer and owner of the LYNX-spacecraft
  • Gross floor area: 9490 m2
  • Main materials: Euramax, solar cells, glass, coral rocks
  • Context: Spaceport located next to the airport in curacao
  • Setting: Airport

Space Xperience Curacao interior

KLM adopts the initiative

After successful negotiations with XCOR Aerospace, the owners of the cute yet powerful LYNX spacecraft, the Dutch national flight operator KLM has adopted the SXC initiative and has started selling tickets for 70.000 EUR per ticket. In the LYNX spacecraft one single candidate astronaut sits right beside the pilot and has the best possible outlook as from the spacious cockpit to experience the valuable 5 minutes of absolute weightlessness during the free fall while gliding and swirling down back towards Earth from 103 km up in the atmosphere.

Space Xperience Curacao interior

SXC Spaceship

The building body of the earthbound SXC terminal is conceived as to evoke the power of the rocket engines to take off into outer space, and at the same time evoke the lightness of a Spaceship glider swirling down to Earth. The shape of the SXC evokes strength and elegance, boldness and sensitivity, it is both masculine and feminine. The shape is intended to attract both professionals and tourists. The design and the styling of the SXC spaceship is intentionally related to state-of-the-art developments in automotive, naval, aerospace and environmental design.

Space Xperience Curacao exterior

Space Experience

The economic motor of the SXC spaceship is an attractive mind-blowing Space Xperience for the tourists. The experience will be designed as to immerse the public into space immediately outside the planet’s crust and the thin layer of the atmosphere of Earth. What will life be out there? How does it feel to be weightless? What do we see from up there? Simulators and interactive virtual reality situations will be designed as to guide the public deep into these strange new worlds. Both the Galactic Universe in outer space and the Quantum Universe in inner space will be explored. We people live our exciting lives on the delicate crust between outer and inner space.

Space Xperience Curacao exterior

Initiation rite

When the public for the Space Xperience arrive, they pass the hangars and may get a glimpse from a secure distance to the LYNX spacecrafts. Then they step into the body of the spaceship to get their electronic badges. The Space Xperience tour starts in the Outdoor Theater, carved out into the coral rocks. There they are welcomed to the theme of the Space Xperience by a 4D movie. After the introduction they step down deeper into the carving and are asked to step into the capsule lifting them up to the upper floor where the immersion into the Space Xperience installation starts. The purpose of this elaborate initiation ride is to transform the sense of reality of the public, to give them the illusion to step into another world, to leave the world as they know it behind and step into the world to come.

Space Xperience Curacao exterior


The trajectory through the immersive experience physically leads the public, level by level, down to where they started. The public swirls down like the LYNX glider does. The public experiences a thrill which runs parallel to the excitement of the astronauts making the real trip into outer space, but with different means. The routing of the Space Xperience cascades level by level down to ground floor level. The plateaus become bigger each step, relating the experience of space travels to always larger environmental and universal subjects: from LYNX to space station, to Earth atmosphere and climate change, to the expanding Universe and finally down to the Deep Sea space. A combined ticket for tourists of this Space Xperience and Seaquarium’s Submarine immersion experience may be considered.

Space experience - routing tourists: section

The commercial outlook

Space travels, like going up with the LYNX, are the predecessors of future commercial space flight in the mesosphere. Up there is much less friction resisting the propulsion of the spacecrafts. It is expected that it will be feasible within ten years to launch the first operational trans-world flight, surfing in space from Europe to Australia, within a mere two hours. That is exactly why KLM is interested, living up to the pioneering role they played hundred years earlier when launching their first commercial flights in Europe.

Body scalability - body shaping

Body scalability - parametric design

Site potentials - relation to the water

Site potentials - panoramic view

Site potentials - expansion possibilities

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Category: Airport

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