Authors : Deniz Özgüven and Michele Mazzaro

University : Pratt Institute

Status : BArch, 2015

Advisors : Jason Lee, Michael Chen

Title : HigherGround

HigherGround is the result of a fascination for height and the search for the sublime through an architecture of the future and the rise of a new enterprise,  [space traveling ]. The space industry is undergoing a shift from State-Mission-Oriented to a more profitable programming which will drive architecture, and many other disciplines, to  [ rethink ] boundaries as never before and to explore the potential for exploiting space travel as a high-end-exclusive-leisure activity.

HigherGround will be the [ threshold ] between human experience and extreme conditions and the gateway to the skies as it rapidly becomes more and more accessible. It will be the first stop in a journey between Earth and “beyond” on board of a ‘space elevator’, where its architecture will catalyze the hostile outdoor conditions within a series of experiential programs meant to amplify humans reception of the un-experienceable immense outer space.

Some of the experiential programs that HigherGround includes are: a fiber optic charged sphere which transmits the light and color from the outside into a seamless/limitless space, sleeping quarters and common spaces that continuously display outdoor conditions through performance and visual installations, and a accessible “terrace” that allows visitors to step out into the un-habitable.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Deniz Özgüven + Michele Mazzaro_ HigherGround explores the ability of architecture to performed as a threshold between program, envelope and the most hostile environment of them all by challenging the perception of materiality, enclosure and space through a series of programmatic scenarios designed to submerge the visitor into the gap between atmospheres. While acting as a protective armor against the extreme conditions, HigherGround attempts to minimize the solidity and hardness of the infrastructure by bringing into the architecture some of the site’s unique conditions as a series of environmental and visual effects based on real time data and reflections from the outside.
The selection of the site was driven by many aspects, but mainly by the unique perspective of space and color at 30km above ground. At this elevation (stratosphere) is the point where the curvature of the Earth becomes apparent and its immense scale is perceived differently. At this height we also experience the change from bright blue sunny skies into the infinite black background from outer space against which the interaction between the greater brightness of the sun and the surface of our planet generates a one of a kind experience.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
D+M_ Most creative disciplines with and inclination for graphic visualizations, fine arts and branding.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
D+M_ To be disciplined and patient, two skills that have shown to be very useful in everyday life as well as valuable in the professional environment.

S//A : Describe your dream project
D+M_ An architectural machine meant to enhance all the ordinary surroundings into their true extraordinary visual and physical experience.