Building A Martian House

This year we are making the first practical steps towards our biggest, most ambitious project yet. We are going to design and build a real house that explores what is needed to live on Mars.

It’ll be a big community building project – so as with all of our work, people will be able to get involved, both in designing and imagining what we’ll need to live on Mars and in the practical processes when we start making the ideas come to life.

We’ve been researching this project alongside making other outcomes of A Decade With Mars for over two years already. In that time we’ve written a lot of funding proposals and are now in a position to begin the design and some prototyping work, thanks to the Edward Marshall Trust, the Global MBR Space Settlement Challenge Grant, The Brigstow Institute and a collaboration with space craft systems engineer Dr Lucy Berthoud and Hugh Broughton Architects.

Doing all of this proposal writing has meant we’ve thought a lot about how to explain the project to people from different backgrounds – from across space science, engineering, art, sociology, design, architecture and well being.

Here’s a list of a few statements we’ve got that sum up what the project might be like:

  • A ‘space house’ that demonstrates technologies for sustainable futures on and off Earth.
  • A large scale public artwork
  • Our contribution to the field of ‘Mars on Earth’ simulation research
  • As real as possible
  • Made by artists, scientists, engineers, technologists and the local community in Bristol
  • Made on a fraction of the budget of NASA
  • A compact, self-sustaining, tourable house operating both as an artwork and a working exhibit
  • A place that provokes conversation about sustainable living on Earth
  • A practical, optimistic vision of the future

As well as things specific to Mars like radiation and dust storms, a lot of things that we’ll look at are also relevant to living here on Earth, like waste and water recycling, and renewable energy to power our house. Everything will be completely self sustaining because when humans really do live on Mars it will have to be. But how you might survive on another planet isn’t just a series of technical problems to be solved. The main factors that influence the design will come from the needs of the humans who will live completely isolated from our home planet. So we’ll be thinking about what leaving Earth behind really means, what you would miss and how the design can reflect health and well being needs.

The way the house will be built is through a program of workshops inviting people to both learn skills and contribute to the building. It’s going to be a massive learning experience for us and one that we will invite others to join. We’ve been gathering together a small core team to help us with the project, which currently includes Dr Lucy Berthoud – Space Craft Systems engineer from University of Bristol, and Hugh Broughton Architects, an award winning firm who designed the Halley VI British Antarctic Research Station.

          Halley VI British Antarctic Research Station. Image: Hugh Broughton Architects


As with the rest of the project, the designs will be made through a series of open public workshops here in Bristol. These will be later this year and we’ll put details here and on our Facebook group so people can get involved. You can also sign up to our mailing list to find out more.


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  1. Pingback: Galina Balashova – Architect of the Soviet Space Programme | ELLA GOOD & NICKI KENT | BLOG

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