Golden extraterrestrial living arrangements

An inflatable building that explores how people would potentially live on Mars has been built in the British city of Bristol by artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent over a period of seven years.

The ‘architects’ brought together space scientists, architects, engineers, designers and even school children to design the multi-planetary structure.

“This is a place for people to think about future living and how the scenario of life on Mars relates to their lives on Earth,”artist Ella Good told Reuters.

“On Mars, you’d have to live in a really small, resourceful community. You’d have to fix everything when it breaks, you’d have to really consider every aspect of your daily lives. So it’s a place for thinking about all of those questions,” she said.

The design

A team of experts in creating buildings for extreme environments, including Antarctica, helped develop the design, taking into account the transportation of materials, the conditions on the red planet and what is already available there.

They settled on a design incorporating an inflatable structure above ground that will be filled with rubble, or regolith, and an underground level making use of lava tubes that occur in the crust of the Red Planet.

“The key thing about when you’re living on Mars is you need your buildings to be completely airtight because the atmosphere outside is essentially poisonous,” Hugh Broughton, principal architect on the project and designer of the British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI Research Station said.

“Above ground would be a living room, this gold inflatable section that you see behind us. And that would be filled with a homemade concrete made of the water and crusty earth that you get on Planet Mars that would then go hard and protect you from the rays that exist around you and we’re essentially using the inflatable structure as a formwork for our concrete enclosure,” he added.

The two-storey 53-square-metre house is powered by solar panels and designed to cope with average temperatures of -63 degrees Celsius.

It has a hydroponic living room where occupants are surrounded by plants to aid relaxation and support a healthy diet.

On Mars, the underground level would house the environmental control room with all the life support systems powering the house, two compact bedroom ‘pods’; along with a shower and a low-water ‘Martian loo’ designed by the winners of NASA's Lunar Loo competition.

The project will be open to the public from the end of August until the end of October.