FLEXRack

FLEXHab is the future EAC analogue habitat aimed particularly at the simulation of Operations with the perspective of lunar missions. As, at the current date, none has been defined, FLEXHab’s internal architectural design is based on achieving maximum flexibility in order to prepare for any potential configurations that will be required. FLEXRack concept was also developed, an evolvable and flexible rack system, moving on rails along the wall to alternate access to a variety of appliances.
What

Product Design

When

2019

Context

Internship Project at the European Astronaut Centre (ESA-EAC), Cologne

Team

Individual project within a multidisciplinary team

My role

Overall project

Empathise (Context Research)

Before starting working on the product I have gathered as much knowledge as possible about its context, through three main sources. These inputs were collected in integrated usage scenarios, representing expected tasks and activities, occupied volumes, and needed facilities in the habitat during different simulations.

Define the problem

Being a project with an architectural background, I have decided to stress on a pure industrial design approach, and focus on the usage. The existing prototype’s usage was deconstructed in storyboards, analysing the overall process, from assembly to stowage and modification. I based the idea of flexibility (prior requirement) on the reduction of cognitive load connected to adjust it to needs. A set of objectives derived.

Objectives

Ideate

The idea generation was focused on simplifying the gestures involved in the FLEXRack’s usage. The concept involved the reduction to a single-frame rack, which could be stored or used through an opening mechanism. Joints and actions needed were dramatically reduced.

Prototype

Prototyping highlighted the problematics inherent the concept which led me to seek collaboration with colleagues engineers and work them out through iteration and novel ideas generation.

Iterate and evaluate

A set of alternatives were created to solve the problem with different structure, cost and usage storyboards. Alternatives were evaluated against each other weighting on a number of variables, which were selected based on the initial requirements and objectives.

Wrap-up

The final design worked out to be more flexible to accommodate the users' needs with a reduced number of joints during assembly. It considers the overall process of usage, from assembly, to disassembly and storage. It was therefore accepted and planned to be implemented in the future construction.