What was the brief of Deep Space 9? What feel was it supposed to have?
We spent about three months conceptualising the station and what it would look like inside and out, and we never really got a handle on it until about two and a half weeks before we had to start construction. The reason we didn’t was we were going in the wrong direction.
As it was original written, it was to be a Tower of Babel station, built by several races over a period of two or three thousand years. Nobody would be able to communicate between one race to the other, parts of the station would be so old that nobody remembered or understood how the technology worked. We did a lot of models, we did computer modelling, we did sketches, and nothing looked right.
One day, Mr.Berman said, "You know, I think we’re going the wrong way about this. What I really want you to do is think about something: you’re at home, you’re in the kitchen, and you hear some music. You walk to the door of the living room and, way on the other side, you see something, and you immediately know that that something is Deep Space 9."
We were looking at a space station, so we’ve got to put it in orbit around a planet. It’s got to have artificial gravity. What creates artificial gravity here on Earth? Well, the closest thing on Earth to that is the gyroscopes inside battleships, aircraft carriers, ships that cruise across the oceans. They have huge magnetic, whirling gyroscope type devices to keep them stable in rough weather.
I started with a sense of what a gyroscope would be doing, and we ended up with a philosophy of how Cardassians engineered their space stations. They like things in sets of three. They like ellipses rather than circles, they like triangles and trapezoids rather than squares and rectangles. They’re militaristic, so they like things that are honest, nuts and bolts and nothing decorative, so everything that is decorative is also, in some way, structural.
We ended up with a station that had three concentric rings, held by three arms that joined the rings, and at the end of those arms were three docking pylons. That became the basic shape of the station. Over that we overlaid a kind of depth to the surface ornament, so that there’s both utilitarian structure and just below that a whole lot of machinery.
Deep Space 9 is the most beautiful model you have ever seen. The detail is exquisite. You can tell when you see the opening to the show how absolutely perfectly everything was designed. That model is only six feet around, but it appears to be a nine hundred metre circular space station.