As the world spins deeper into the third year of a global pandemic with no sign of abating, a new space race is forming over our heads. Entry is open to all, and the tickets are literal. The Architect's Newspaper's Jonathan Hilburg explores how the world's richest men are charting new paths for the human species, and how the public are reacting to the future of private space tourism.
Mars: The Latest Architecture and News
The Apollo 11 Mission, departed Earth on July 16, 1969, and touched down on the moon 4 days later. This moment marked a milestone for humanity and, to this day, makes us reflect on how technological progress is bringing us ever closer to life beyond planet Earth.
With the help of 3D printers, highly developed and fully automated constructive technology, we have compiled a selection of 15 architectural projects that demonstrate that life on the moon and beyond is closer than we've ever imagined.
Bjarke Ingels Group has collaborated with NASA and ICON to create Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed research habitat that will provide long duration habitation for astronauts on missions to Mars. The 1,700 sq.ft. structure, which is currently located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, is designed by the award-winning architecture firm, 3D printed by construction developers ICON, and will soon be home to NASA's future crew.
February 2021 has been a historical month for Mars exploration. While humans have been exploring the red planet for well over 50 years, first landing on its surface in 1971 and then launching the first successful rover in 1997, this year has seen several firsts, namely the first time that three countries (China, United States, and the UAE) have launched three simultaneous probes.
A Greenhouse City on Mars and a Dockside Tower in Dublin: 8 Unbuilt Projects Submitted by our Readers
Architecture is defined by its context. This holds especially true when buildings are located in harsh climates and must respond to natural conditions. This week’s curated selection of the Best Unbuilt Architecture focuses on designs located at the intersection of nature and the built environment. Drawn from all over the world, they represent proposals submitted by our readers.
The article features a range of building types and locations, including many coastal proposals, from a regeneration plan on the South Coast of England and a proposal to link the famous Turku archipelago, to a dockside timber tower in Dublin. Also included are more extreme ideas, from an overlook on the Algarve coast to a vertical city with greenhouses located along a cliff on Mars.
Space has long captured our imaginations. Looking to the ocean above us, writers, scientists and designers alike have continuously dreamed up new visions for a future on distant planets. Mars is at the center of this discourse, the most habitable planet in our solar system after Earth. Proposals for the red planet explore how we can create new realms of humanity in outer space.
Up until now, space architecture has been mainly focused on engineering, centered on projects like orbital space stations or Martian exploration convoys, commissioned by world space agencies such as ESA (Europe) or NASA (USA). But in recent years, an increasingly broader spectrum of professionals (e.g. architects, sociologists) as well as entrepreneurs and investors (not all well intentioned) have joined the challenge of designing extraterrestrial built environments, the new space race of the 21st century.
The fast development of technology, the increase of world population and the climate change crisis create the perfect setting to think about life outside of our planet, and as these trends continue to evolve and converge, new opportunities to explore options beyond our traditional limits appear (NEOM), as well as new organizations which support this research (like SATC, SICSA). Even though no one is currently on Mars, many ongoing projects and simulations (MARS-ONE, Mars City Science) are already exploring how we will design, build and inhabit the new realms of humanity in outer space.
Bjarke Ingels Group has been working on the Mars Science City project after the United Arab Emirates announced the initiative in 2017. The $140 Million USD (AED 500 million) research city aims to serve as a “viable and realistic model” for the simulation of human occupation of the martian landscape. The project is designed with a team of Emirati scientists, engineers and designers from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center.
Designers Warith Zaki and Amir Amzar have imagined a project that seeks to find alternatives to traditional construction material in order to build the first settlements on Mars. In fact, they opted for a natural earthy element that competes with wood, brick and concrete, and drafted a project that uses bamboo.
In the Negev Desert of Israel, SAGA Space Architects are collaborating with D-MARS to build a Mars Lab Habitat that will simulate the conditions of living in a confined space on the hazardous surface of the red planet. The laboratory structure they’ve designed is an addition to D-MARS' existing Mars simulation habitat and will be part of a larger experiment. This habitat will serve as a prototype for a longer mission scheduled for 2020.
SEArch+ and Apis Cor have won first place in the Virtual Construction level of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge, seeking to create sustainable shelters suitable for the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Using resources available on-site in these locations, the female-led, New York-based space research and design practice proposed the MARS X HOUSE, offering a robust, durable 3D-printed habitat using autonomous robotics.
Led by SEArch+ co-founder Melodie Yashar, the scheme employs evidence-based design for the form and constructability of the future habitat, intended for a crew of four to live and work on Mars for one Earth year. The habitat is designed to exceed radiation standards in order to ensure human health while connecting the crew with natural light and views of the Martian landscape.
Architecture and technology company AI SpaceFactory has completed the autonomous construction of MARSHA, a proposal for a Martian surface habitat for NASA. The 3D printed shelter is one of five finalists in an international competition to design and build a habitat for a crew of four astronauts on a mission to Mars. AI SpaceFactory formulated their own material – a “Martian polymer” that can be made from matter found or grown on the planet.
Life in Space
AI SpaceFactory has released details of their proposed cylindrical huts for the Planet Mars, designed as part of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge organized by NASA. Project MARSHA (Mars HAbitat) was endorsed by NASA with a top prize of almost $21,000, one of five designs selected from a field of seventeen.
The competition asked participants to design an effective habitat for a crew of four astronauts to be located on the Red Planet, using construction techniques enabled by 3D printing. The submitted schemes were then ranked based on their innovation, architectural layout, and level of detail in BIM modeling.
Foster + Partners will detail its vision of life on Mars and the Moon at the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018. Forming part of the festival's Future Lab event, the vision will be presented through a range of models, robotics, and futuristic designs exploring the future of life in space.
The firm's showcase will include a virtual reality experience, allowing visitors to explore the inside of a proposed state-of-the-art habitation pod.
Since the start of time, we humans have been captivated by the mystical nature of other celestial bodies surrounding our Planet Earth. This fascination has been translated to works of astronomy, astrology, architecture and many other studies from making a simple telescope to humankind’s first steps on the Moon. This unending drive for exploration has today led us to understanding our neighboring solar systems and galaxies, thousands of light years away.
At this morning’s International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, SpaceX founder and Lead Designer Elon Musk announced the most ambitious plans yet for the colonization of planets and satellites beyond Earth, including the establishment of a lunar base and a permanent Mars colony by 2022.
“The future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we’re a space-faring species than if we’re not,” said Musk during his keynote. “It’s about believing in the future and thinking the future will be better than the past.”