We The Curious adult evening workshop

In October we hosted another event at We The Curious, who we’ve been working with lots lately as part of our design phase for Building A Martian House. It was an evening of talks and discussion about the project and as with all of the work we’ve been doing lately, there was opportunity for people to contribute their ideas about well being in design.

We began with a series of short talks by the team working on the project. We had Hugh Broughton the award winning architect from the British Antarctic Research Station, Bob Myhill  who is a Geologist currently part of the NASA Insight rover team and Professor Lucy Berthoud Space Craft Systems Engineer.

These people are making up the core team advising on the design of our Martian House. They each gave a short talk to get people thinking about Mars, and about how our experiences here on Earth can help us get an insight into how we might make the design decisions for our house.

From the talks we learned about how Hugh had designed for the Antarctic and the similarities between life there and on Mars. Antarctica really is like another planet – with harsh cold environments that require explorers to put on protective clothing to go outside, and with beautiful, otherworldly landscapes and skies.

Hugh also spoke about his work with colour psychologists and how a colour palette had been designed specifically to create calm sleeping environments. There’s an interview with Hugh here that mentions lots of small details like colour, if you’re interested in finding out more about that aspect. He also spoke about his work with NASA where he was part of a team calculating the minimum living space needed for astronauts in long duration space missions.

When Bob spoke we learned about what it might be like to live on Mars. Days would be dimly lit with a rusty red light, and there would be blue sunsets. In the middle of the day on the equator it would be a comfortable 20 C but a night it would drop to -160. Without an atmosphere we’d have to protect ourselves from the sun’s radiation, but as a positive without an atmosphere, even the strongest winds would just feel like a light breeze.

Lucy spoke about the human side of our project, and how exciting it is to bring artists and scientists together in collaboration. We’re so excited by this part of the project. The subject provides a meeting point for all of our different expertise and skills to come together and make something completely new.

The highlight of the night was when we divided into small discussion groups to hear what the audience thought about how we could live well on Mars, and how we can use our lived experience here on Earth to help us think about this. And as we saw in these discussions, the topic really is one that everyone has something to say about, no matter what background or occupation you come from.


Here are just a few of the highlights from the discussions:


  • People compared shared living experiences in University halls of residence, small living in caravans or vans,
  • Ownership of space was a point that ran through almost all of the groups discussions –  how can we allow the participants space to personalize our house on Mars? Suggestions of small acts of DIY, and raw materials to decorate parts of it or change it after time. As both a way of changing the space you’re in to be your own but also as a therapeutic act of expression/craft in itself.
  • Views – views of Earth or views of Mars, or maybe both, with possible views of the beautiful large landscapes of Mars and also thinking about more homely sights.
  • Collective Martian identity – how do we become Martian? Do we design a flag together? Shall we create a game that is only possible to play on Mars? Do we create the Martian Olympics? How can we embrace our new planet and start creating a new culture for living in a totally new place?

The main things that stick with me a couple of weeks later, are the inputs about creativity within this future living scenario, whether that is the creativity involved in decorating our house – leaving some bits open to be chosen or updated by the people living in it. Or the fun of making a new Martian culture, a reminder of how important that will be to help us settle on Mars rather than just visit.