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Earth to Hamsa
A conversation with my alter ego
From Rockets to Rocks
The Architecture of Closed Worlds
- Eye on Design
On the morning of February 14th, 2019, Raya Ani had a fictional dialogue with her alter ego Hamsa. Raya Ani is an architect who lives between New York and Dubai. Hamsa is an artist who escaped planet Earth and now lives on Mars.
HAMSA: Have you ever thought of living in outer space?
RAYA: No, thank you… I am happy where I am.
HAMSA: How do you imagine it?
RAYA: I am imagining you floating around the clouds, moons and stars! I also imagine you wearing interesting armors that amuse the stars.
HAMSA: Which of your designs reminds you of outer space?
RAYA: Maybe the Women’s Building in New York City.
HAMSA: What is it about?
RAYA: It’s about converting a women’s prison—the Bayview Correctional Facility—into a hub for women’s empowerment. We can’t demolish the building as it is a landmark building, but we can completely transform it from within while protecting the core and the shell.
HAMSA: What is the “Head in the clouds” image about?
RAYA: It is a rooftop… the closest mental space to you, Hamsa. A space where female prisoners once went to experience fresh air and to imagine a better future. I conceive it as a space inside Women’s building where women can experience elation, as if floating amidst the clouds.
RAYA: Why did you leave Earth?
HAMSA: It was my only choice. It is different; what applies there does not apply here. There is still a fear of the unknown and there are still challenges.
RAYA: Is it interesting to you?
HAMSA: I think we are all intrigued by what we can’t understand. We fear the unknown. I don’t think you would like it Raya. We are further away from the sun. It is much colder here than the coldest day in New York.
RAYA: Did you always want to go there?
HAMSA: It was the time to move and expand! To go where I have never been before.
RAYA: What do you do there?
HAMSA: Well, I sleep a lot but hardly dream. When I wake up, I draw fictional stories about life on another planet.
RAYA: Do you try to make outer space Earth-like?
HAMSA: I was out one morning, remembering life on Earth and realizing, we are always trying to bend our environment to serve us. If we can avoid forcing matters, then maybe there is no point in making outer space feel like Earth.
RAYA: What is your biggest challenge up there? Will you ever come back?
HAMSA: My biggest challenge is relying on Earth for food and the limited knowledge resulting from living on Earth.
RAYA: Will you ever come back?
HAMSA: No, I am not coming back Raya. I am happier where I am now.
Main image: Outer Space montage by Raya Ani | RAW-NYC Architects