Space and architecture are two things that, typically, do not mix. Architecture, in its purest form, is an artform that aims to assist humans in the form of structures and projects that allow their lives to be made easier. Whether in the form of a home, apartment, office, religious building or educational institution, architects aren’t typically associated with the final frontier, but now, they most certainly are.

With enigmatic billionaire Elon Musk intent on establishing a colony of 1 million people on Mars by 2050, thought has now shifted to the living quarters and infrastructure implemented on the red planet when the time comes. A number of architecture practices worldwide have looked to create a number of potential structures designed specifically for life on Mars, which aim to use a number of the planet’s resources and implement them seamlessly onto the red planet’s surface.

We thought we’d take a look at some of the firms that have tried their hand at creating structures for a human colony on Mars in the coming decades. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Team Zopherus: Zopherus

team zopherus

Designed by a number of Arkansas locals, Zopherus was the winner of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. Using a number of resources from the red planet, the ‘huts’ are placed closely together in order to form a community. The construction is completed via a 3D printer, removing the need for human interaction and ensuring the structure will be ready for human settlement by the time it arrives. Crafted by robots, a landing robot will locate a suitable place for the settlement to reside, and then will deploy a series of robots who ultimately start and finish the design process.

Ai SpaceFactory: Marsha

marsha ai space factory

After NASA launched its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge in 2015, Ai SpaceFactory set about devising Marsha, an egg-like structure that will serve as residential volumes for potential colony citizens. The double-insulated hub is able to handle Mars’ atmospheric pressure, with all construction to be completed on Mars, mitigating the need to ship the completed structures in a space shuttle. The structure’s materials are readily available on Mars, with the design team developing an emulsion of basalt fibre extracted from Martian rock and renewable bioplastic taken from plants able to be planted on Mars. While being rather intimate as opposed to a communal space, the hubs will easily house 1-2 humans, giving those who migrate to the red planet in future the ability to own their own personal space.

Warith Zaki and Amir Amzar: Seed of Life

Warith Zaki Amir-Amzar Seed of Life Mars

Malaysian designers, Warith Zaki and Amir Amzar have looked to create something similar with their creation to Ai Space with the Seed of Life. Opting for robots to weave bamboo shoots (that will be planted on Mars after a water source is found), the plant will be wrapped around a layer of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), with water pumping into the bamboo, freezing the structure and increasing protection to occupants from the planet’s climate. The pair’s design has been built around the idea of opting against 3D printing, that is the subject of creating the majority of Martian structures. While the bamboo alone may not be enough for the structure to be protective, the pair believe it is a more sustainable way to create residential structures on the red planet as opposed to 3D printing.

NASA, University of Arizona: Martian Greenhouse

Martian Greenhouse NASA University of Arizona

While most greenhouses (on Earth, that is) are made of glass, NASA and the University of Arizona’s agricultural department have developed a greenhouse that is inflatable that will foster the growth of vegetables on distant planets. Looking to ensure astronauts and potential citizens can maintain a vegetarian diet while in space, the 5 x 2 metre design can house air revitalisation, water recycling, waste recycling and could even repurpose the carbon dioxide inhaled by astronauts. The greenhouse is likened to many of the biological systems that exist on Earth, and will no doubt be utilised when humans make the trip to the red planet.

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