Humans have been looking up at the stars for over 200,000 years. Increasing concerns about our effect on the Earth, the exponential consumption of our natural resources furthermore, the fact that there is a maximum life expectancy for our planet; it’s only natural for us to consider the possibilities of colonising a new planet. As for where… we may search for a ‘Goldilocks Planet‘ or maybe try out Mars. This new wave of engineering capabilities along with a completely new hostile environment deserves a new age of human architecture. Click here for my Mars design, which can also be found in the portfolio section of my website.
Civilisations have always looked at the world around them for architectural inspiration. Many used local materials as a cheap and easy way to build their homes but looked at more long term materials such as stone to build monuments that transcended their own individual lives.
Therefore, I believe that in the initial stages we will look to engineers and architects to design pods which are maybe expandable to house families which can be ferried over on larger ships. However, in the long run the new environment will shape the way we design. For example if there is a high quantity of natural magnesium in close proximity to the colonised area it would make sense to harvest it and ultimately develop a way of incorporating it into our structures.
In terms of Mars, most designs rely heavily on use taking our technology over but few with the exception of martian-concrete rely on using locally sourced materials. Initially, it makes sense to have a base from which to expand and process the landscape into habitable areas but to me the word ‘colonising’ means more than rationing oxygen and living in inflatable bubbles. It means being a self-sufficient community and seeing the potential of materials around us instead of a hostile environment. This is where the premise of terraforming comes in. Whilst the aim is to make the atmosphere more Earth-like the complications of which especially on Mars with the discovery of a frozen sub-layer with the potential of life are currently too great for our existing technology.
Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX will be sending manned missions to Mars in 2022 and Bas Lansdorp, owner of SpaceOne aims to have the first colony on Mars by 2023. NASA has also been holding competitions for 3D printed designs for the red planet. Space architecture is still in its infancy but it’s gathering momentum. This is a new field for the next generation of architects, pushing our understanding of engineering and future technologies to the edge.