(Above: Spacebuster at CSV Cultural Center, Photo Alan Tansey )
View Alan Tansey’s photostream documenting evening events in the Spacebuster. 

Spacebuster is a mobile inflatable structure – a portable, expandable pavilion – designed to transform public spaces of all kinds into points for community gathering. A new iteration of a past Raumlabor project, the Küchenmonument (presented in Europe in 2006-8), this marked the first appearance of the Spacebuster in the US as it traveled throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn for 10 consecutive evenings hosting various community events.

The pavilion is comprised of an inflatable bubble-like dome that emerges from a step van that also houses the compressor that keeps the Spacebuster inflated. The dome expands and organically adjusts to its surroundings, be it in a field, a wooded park, or below a highway overpass. The material is a translucent plastic that allows the events taking place inside of the shelter – screenings, lectures, dinners or discussions – to be entirely visible from the outside. The exterior environments similarly become the events’ backdrops.

Each of these ten evenings was organized in conjunction with a community group, nonprofit organization, university, or arts organization. Events included artist talks, film screenings, communal dinners and other events.

Friday April 17, 6.30pm
Public Vernissage at Gansevoort Plaza with a talk by Raumlabor ( map )

Sunday April 19, 7pm: Dinner at the Old American Can Factory
Dinner with Raumlabor in the Spacebuster in The Courtyard of The Old American Can Factory, 232 Third Street at Third Ave., Gowanus Brooklyn, hosted by The Eighteenth, a roving restaurant run by artist Anne Apparu (7pm onwards, $27). Organized in conjunction with MeanRed Productions and XØ Projects.

Tuesday April 21, 7pm
Gathering at Wyoming Building, the new events space of the Goethe Institute NY ( map ) followed by a lecture by Raumlabor and presentation of the Fragmental Museum at Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center. Presented in conjunction with Goethe Institute New York.  

Wednesday April 22, 7pm
Screening and discussion: “Examined Life”, organized in conjunction with Gavin Browning/Studio-X/Columbia GSAPP. Followed by open discussion with Astra Taylor, Avital Ronell and Raumlabor.

Thursday April 23, 7pm
Iron Designer, organized in conjunction with Studio-X/Columbia GSAPP and DUMBO Improvement District
Iron Designer was organized by Mitchell Joachim, Ioanna Theocharopoulou and Gavin Browning, Columbia GSAPP, as a continuation of ECOGRAM: The Sustainability Question.
Featuring teams of M.Arch students from Columbia GSAPP, CCNY, Parsons and Pratt, IRON DESIGNER is a real-time, ecologically-oriented and challenge-based happening loosely based on “Iron Chef”. The event took place at The Archway in DUMBO.

Friday April 24, 7.30pm
Screening of Gets Under the Skin Films and Videos on Modernist Architecture curated by Hajnalka Somogyi.
Screening of Utopie 18, a movie by Raumlabor, followed by open discussion with the public.
Screenings took place in the Spacebuster, located under the High Line at 508 W25 St at 10th Ave in Chelsea.

Saturday April 25
3pm Workshop
4.30pm Sandwiches by Raumlaborberlin
5pm Poetry Slam

On Saturday, Storefront for Art and Architecture and Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership organized a joint community-oriented event held in the unused space under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway along Park Avenue. The workshop focused on how disused spaces of this kind can be re-imagined as neighborhood assets. During activities facilitated by planners and designers including Raumlabor, workshop attendees were able to share their thoughts through sketching, through discussions, and by exchanging ideas. The event was free and open to the public and was held at Park Ave btw Washington Ave and Hall Street (under the BQE), Brooklyn.

Sunday April 26, 8pm
Finissage – closing reception and goodbye to Raumlabor (33 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn).

About Raumlabor
Raumlabor is a group of architects and urban designers based in Berlin, Germany. Raumlabor began working on the issues of contemporary architecture and urbanism in 1999. Working in various interdisciplinary teams they investigate strategies for urban renewal. Raumlabor’s work deals with urban design and planning, architectural design, landscape, buliding interactive environments, research and design of public space and art installations. Their public art installations have been shown in Vienna, Austria, numerous cities in Germany, as well as numerous biennials and exhibition spaces throughout Europe.

Sponsored by:
Goethe Institute New York
Department of Transportation – Urban Arts Initiative

Goethe Institute New York DOT Urban Art Program

Partner Organizations:
Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center
Studio-X/Columbia GSAPP
Meanred Productions
Meatpacking District Initiative
Dumbo Improvement District
MARP LDC / Myrtle Ave Brooklyn BID

With special thanks to
Kellam Clark www.kellamclark.com
IBEX Construction www.ibexconstruction.com

Spacebuster on WNYC

Spacebuster at CSV Cultural Center, Photo Alan Tansey


From within a hard shell swells the soft bubble, a billowing urban room hatched in the back of a delivery van. This genie in a lamp makes for instant theater, and shows how wind in a bag can make instant architecture. But this is no ordinary pop-up circus tent. Rather than being consumed as entertainment, like a circus act or the dead matter of architecture, Spacebuster consumes its viewers, and they in turn transform it. Touch it, see and be seen through it, drink and debate inside it.

New York is full of invisible walls. The spaces that Spacebuster busts are penned by intangible limits. Space busting is about uncompressing the void, sprouting between the cracks, squeezing the vacuum, enveloping the moment. Ambiguity no longer equates to amnesia. The strange yet banal spectacle of inflation, the making of walls and boundaries, turns out to be an overture to cross those boundaries and infiltrate the volume. Spacebuster mobilizes us to mobilize space.

Enter Spacebuster, the amorphous enigma: A certified building by the Department of Buildings. A licensed vehicle by the Department of Motor Vehicles. A certified street event by the Department of Transportation. An experimental realm-laboratory by Raumlaborberlin. Inhaling inert space, it holds its breath until the space reawakens, if only for a moment. Will the memory last? How will we convert this experience of agile placemaking into everyday practices of urban space busting?

Gideon Fink Shapiro