Saturday, May 02, 2009

Memory Palaces and Other Temporary Spaces

Some things are impractical to build, so we create them in conceptual space alone.

Photos: City Hall Station, New York. Kevin Walsh, Forgotten NY.
I once wrote a story about a man who built a memory palace out of the New York Subway system, and a woman who kept a planetarium in a leather-bound book in a vast library beneath an iron-grated skylight in the tower of her home.

BLDG BLOG's Geoff Manaugh has put up a short piece of design fiction that bears on this: Rentable Basement Mazes.

Within a few years, the market matures.

You can then rent bar cars, home gyms, private restaurants, cheese caves, wine cellars, topless dancing clubs, recording studios, movie theaters, and even an aquarium. You can't sleep in the middle of the night and so you wander downstairs to look at rare tropical fish, alone with fantastic webworks of coral beneath a slumbering metropolis.

Bespoke planetarium cars are soon developed; you step into your own personal history of the sky every night as the clanking metal of distant private rail switches echoes in the tunnels around you, basements unlatching and moving on through vaulted darkness.

Shoe storage. Rare book libraries. Guest bedrooms. Growing operations. Swine flu quarantine facilities.

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