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Work Samples

The Lazy River Interior - at the axis

The Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency included the design of several habitats for nonhuman space settlers. The Lazy River rotates to provide artificial gravity forces equivalent to those found on the surface of Mars, about 1/3 the strength of Earth's gravity. This allows chickens to take off and fly, and manatees to crawl up to the central axis, where they too are weightless. Special goggles help prevent the manatee's eyes from drying out.

Compound Sustainable Master Plan

This is an ongoing project for a live/work facility in Baltimore, organizing the material and energy flows into a sustainable system for living and production.

Pillow Fort Semper Elements

The tectonics of Pillow Fort Semper were based on Gottfried Semper's Four Elements of Architecture. For Semper the 19th Century German critic of art and architecture, the home was constructed from traditional craft activities like ground cultivation, solid masonry, stick framing, and cooking. Each of these methods is translated into the building of the pillow fort. First comes the ground preparation, as the rugs and pillows are organized to make the floor inhabitable. Large couch cushions are arranged like modular stone slabs, with uprights and lintels enclosing space.

Chicken Roomba and Space Rabbit

Animals and robots make productive partners. These modified found objects are made from off the shelf pieces, customized with 3D printing and traditional fabrication shop techniques. Working with objects in this way opens up a space between the model, which provides new ways of thinking, and the toy, which can simply be played with.

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About Fred

Baltimore City

Fred Scharmen graduated with a BS in Architecture from the University of Maryland in 2001 and a Masters Degree in Architecture from Yale University in 2006. Fred is a cofounder and principal of the Working Group on Adaptive Systems, an art, research, and design consultancy. As a board member of D center Baltimore, Fred was active for over four years helping to organize the Baltimore Design Conversations, an open forum for thinking about art and design in Baltimore and beyond. In addition to... more

Space Settlements: A book project forthcoming in 2019

Space Settlements is a book project, looking back on NASA's 1975 plan to build huge cities in space for thousands of people. Space Settlements discusses NASA's proposals within the cultural and design contexts of the 1970s. This project was an act of speculative futurism, but it also registers in the realms of art, architecture, urban design, and the popular cultural imagination, and has a lasting implications and influence today. Space Settlements will be published by Columbia University's Columbia Books on Architecture and the City imprint. This book is supported by a generous grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

The Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency: Speculative Design

The Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency is an open world speculative research project that proposes a network of robotic and biological systems for exploring the solar system, tied together by exchanges in the material and online attention economies. In recent decades, space exploration has been the heroic imperative of humankind, but this was not always the case. The first Earthlings in space were dogs, monkeys, and rabbits. Offering the opportunity to explore space back to nonhumans reveals new opportunities, risks, and rewards. Would an animal already adapted for life in a weightless medium not be better suited for free fall? What would an intelligent, curious, nonhuman mammal with a twitter account want to see and do in high Earth orbit and beyond? Using robotics and fabrication to create new spatial systems with new affordances for their inhabitants, the Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency imagines that the future of space exploration and inhabitation might be an adventure for everyone.

This project has been exhibited in a solo show at pinkcomma in Boston, and at Artscape and School 33 in Baltimore.

  • Anatoly

    In recent decades, space exploration has been the heroic imperative of humankind, but this was not always the case. The first Earthlings in space were dogs, monkeys, and rabbits. Offering the opportunity to explore space back to nonhumans reveals new opportunities, risks, and rewards. Would an animal already adapted for life in a weightless medium not be better suited for free fall? What would an intelligent, curious, nonhuman mammal with a twitter account want to see and do in high Earth orbit and beyond? This image was made as a limited edition, hand colored screen print.
  • The Lazy River Interior - at the axis

    The Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency included the design of several habitats for nonhuman space settlers. The Lazy River rotates to provide artificial gravity forces equivalent to those found on the surface of Mars, about 1/3 the strength of Earth's gravity. This allows chickens to take off and fly, and manatees to crawl up to the central axis, where they too are weightless. Special goggles help prevent the manatee's eyes from drying out.
  • The Lazy River - Cross Section

    The Lazy River is a habitat modeled on south Florida. It has a sevenfold symmetry, formed from the deconstruction of an asteroid into its component materials, then extruded with a 3D printer and woven together, with a large river around the middle, and windows fore and aft that receive reflected sunlight.
  • The Lazy River Interior - the River

    The river running around the deepest part of the hollow asteroid is home to a colony of Florida manatees. In intelligence tests, manatees have performed at least as well as dolphins, in both pattern recognition, and task performance, just more slowly. Unlike most other intelligent aquatic mammals, the manatee's flippers are visible in their field of vision, allowing for fine grained flipper-eye coordination. There is no reason why a manatee would not be able to operate a touchscreen device, in theory.
  • The Lazy River - Cross Section Detail

    The design challenge for habitats like the Lazy River is to create as many opportunities as possible for interaction between the animals and the robot caretakers that manage the environment.
  • Chicken Roomba and Space Rabbit

    Animals and robots make productive partners. These modified found objects are made from off the shelf pieces, customized with 3D printing and traditional fabrication shop techniques. Working with objects in this way opens up a space between the model, which provides new ways of thinking, and the toy, which can simply be played with.
  • The Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency - pinkcomma

    The Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency was exhibited in Boston at pinkcomma, a gallery for speculative architecture and art.
  • Charismatic Megafauna: Future Manatees

    A second version of the Future Manatees sculpture installation was shown at the 'Viscerally Yours' exhibition at School 33 in Baltimore, along with other work from the Nonhuman Autonomous Space Agency. This image is an animated gif, click to activate.
  • Charismatic Megafauna: Future Manatees

    Future Manatees was created for Artscape 2015. A herd of 6 inflatable mylar manatees floated and swam in the air above the paths of Baltimore's Pearlstone Park for the duration of the three day festival. This image is an animated gif, click to activate.

Pillow Fort Semper: Installation

Pillow Fort Semper was created for the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2016, as an interactive event activity and temporary exhibit in the East Lobby. This project was designed and produced in collaboration with Marian April Glebes.

Since the dawn of time, humans have been rearranging their stuff. Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Great Pyramids, can all be seen as the results of people deciding to move their things around. As soon as couch cushions, chairs, and blankets were available, someone was probably combining these pieces in ways that they were never intended to be combined. People (of all ages) use furniture and fabric to make forts within their homes for a lot of reasons, but most of these boil down to a need find some temporary refuge from everyday life. If the home is a shelter, then the pillow fort is a shelter within the shelter, an interior within the interior. The pillow fort is defensible space, but it is not made of hard warlike materials. Instead it is soft, the comfortable, inviting ordinary stuff of the home is rearranged into new configurations to make new kinds of space. The pillow fort has a whimsical legibility, it reads as both the castle and the couch at the same time, and it invites us to engage with it, to use it, and to remake it. This making and remaking is extra fun with company. Just like in full size home-building (or Stonehenge building), the creation of the pillow fort needs extra hands present, if only to balance the couch cushions while the blanket is draped over the top.

  • Pillow Fort Semper Design Sketch

    Pillow Fort Semper was designed to be an interactive system of elements that could be arranged and rearranged over the course of the Baltimore Museum of Art's event series. In the longer term, most of the components of Pillow Fort Semper were repurposed, donated to organizations in Baltimore helping displaced people, refugees, and those experiencing homelessness.
  • Pillow Fort Semper Photo Collage

    Pillow Fort Semper was a place for engagement, a place for refuge, and a place for selfies.
  • Pillow Fort Semper Elements

    The tectonics of Pillow Fort Semper were based on Gottfried Semper's Four Elements of Architecture. For Semper the 19th Century German critic of art and architecture, the home was constructed from traditional craft activities like ground cultivation, solid masonry, stick framing, and cooking. Each of these methods is translated into the building of the pillow fort. First comes the ground preparation, as the rugs and pillows are organized to make the floor inhabitable. Large couch cushions are arranged like modular stone slabs, with uprights and lintels enclosing space.
  • Pillow Fort Semper Tectonics

    Each of these tectonic systems will be customized by the artists/architects. The couch cushions and blankets will feature the textures of traditional building materials - like English bond brick, CMU, and wooden siding - stenciled onto them. The trestles will be customized with extra extendable crutches, to make the space more proportionally suited for adults to occupy. The blankets and sheets will be grommetted on the corners, so that they can function as efficient membranes, and cords help to hold the whole system together.
  • Pillow Fort Semper

    Pillow Fort Semper was rebuilt several times over the course of the BMA's event. In its final form, it was exhibited in the East Lobby.

Evergreen Commons: Installation

Evergreen Commons was a site specific installation for Sculpture at Evergreen 6: Simultaneous Presence. Designed and built in collaboration with Eric Leshinsky and Ryan Patterson, this was an exercise in urban public placemaking, with work contributed by several Baltimore artists: Gary Kachadourian, Michael Benevento, Lee Freeman, Sarah Doherty, Jonathan Taube, Billy Mode and Services United. This new public space was placed in a dialogue with an existing historic garden opposite, with the grounds of the 19th century estate within which it was situated, and, ultimately, with the city at large.

In the summer of 2010, the artists held regular public events here, with games, music, and food. This project was awarded 'Best Site Specific Work' in the Baltimore City Paper's 2010 annual Best of Baltimore issue.

For more info, see the project website at: http://friendsofevergreencommons.com/

  • Evergreen Commons

    Evergreen Commons was a site specific installation for Sculpture at Evergreen 6: Simultaneous Presence. Designed and built in collaboration with Eric Leshinsky and Ryan Patterson, this was an exercise in urban public placemaking. This new public space was placed in a dialogue with an existing historic garden opposite, with the grounds of the 19th century estate within which it was situated, and, ultimately, with the city at large. Photograph courtesy of Marian April Glebes.
  • Evergreen Commons Map

    Evergreen Commons was sited to be in dialogue with the pre-existing features of the ground of Evergreen House, like the walled Friendship Garden across the stream, and the historic brick path unearthed during the construction of the Commons.
  • Evergreen House Map

    Evergreen Commons was part of the Sculpture Biennialle at Evergreen House, a cultural property of Johns Hopkins University, and once home to the family that built the B&O Railroad.
  • Evergreen Commons Research Images

    Evergreen Commons recreated and rearranged the elements of a typical urban park into a social oasis on the wide green lawns of the semi-public space of Evergreen House.
  • Evergreen Commons vignettes

    The piece incorporated pre-existing work from several Baltimore artists. Shown here are contributions from Jonathan Taube, Michael Benevento, Gary Kachadourian, and Billy Mode. Photographic collage courtesy of Annene Kay.
  • Evergreen Commons

    Photograph courtesy of Marian April Glebes
  • Evergreen Commons

    Photograph courtesy of Marian April Glebes
  • Baltimore City Map

    Within Baltimore, Evergreen Commons takes its place as part of a network of places that are partly made by artists and designers, and partly made by the people who use them.
  • Evergreen Commons notice

    The events held here took the form of BBQ's, picnics, parties, and even protests. For more information, see the project website at http://friendsofevergreencommons.com/

Troubles: Drawings

These drawings explore continuous curvature based on a few simple rules about line length, line connections, and degree of change. In each case, a system is developed, and then pushed to its limits or crashed.

The hypothesis that love stories are stories of form: Installation

This large (14' x 5') wall drawing traces the smooth transition between three regular 2D tiling systems: hexagonal, square, and cairo. These grids are disturbed to form figural disruptions based on geometry from the traces of previous work hung on the gallery wall.

Research and Critique: Writing

Writing and research is a vital and active part of design practice, and design teaching. This collection of writing addresses diverse audiences - those interested in popular culture, cities, and design - in academia, in professional disciplines, and in the general public. The topics of this research and criticism center around the intersection of architecture, science fiction, politics, and public space (especially in Baltimore).

Other: Selected Spatial Practice Projects

A key aspect of this work is spatial practice. Work in other disciplines - research writing, visual art, installation, architecture - feeds into this. This practice is centered around the creation of images that evoke new realities, to help build consensus among collaborative team members, and to aid in creating public audiences.

  • Woodmont

    This project, designed in 2009 with a sculptor and public art consultant, reimagines corporate plaza art as a system of geometric modular components that can be rearranged by the users in order to create different kinds of space.
  • Application House

    Application House is an ongoing speculative research project, remaking the neighborhoods and houses of the future, taking into account emerging technology like automated vehicles and 3D printing concrete. The project is a cultural critique of the possible implications of this technology on consumer domestic life.
  • Planetes

    This project, created in collaboration with a poet, a user experience designer, a sustainability expert, and an architect, was a proposal for the Storefront for Art and Architecture gallery space in 2016. An interactive model solar system is the platform for engagement with architectural autonomy.
  • Current Hub

    This project was created with the gallery and arts institution Current Space. This is an ongoing proposal for an expansion and enhancement of their space on Howard St. in Baltimore. This project was the recipient of several local grants for its future execution.
  • Compound Sustainable Master Plan

    This is an ongoing project for a live/work facility in Baltimore, organizing the material and energy flows into a sustainable system for living and production.
  • Artscape National Park

    This rendering illustrates the concept for an installation on Charles St. during Artscape in 2012. This project was created in collaboration with Marian April Glebes and C. Ryan Patterson.
  • campcamp site map

    This is the site map for a project curated and designed in collaboration with Marian April Glebes and Ryan Patterson. Campcamp was made, with various artists, for the Transmodern festival in 2011, transforming the back courtyard at Current Space into a site for temporary occupation.

Connect with Fred

Fred's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.