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Consulting Engineers

Are we ready to build on Mars?

A skyscraper suspended from an asteroid, a garden tower on Venus and an ice house on Mars…

What do they all have in common?

They’re all concepts created by architects at the New York design firm, Clouds Architecture Office.

These ideas sound like pie in the sky, and founding partner Ostap Rudakevych admits that the ideas are purely speculative. Talking about the suspended skyscraper he says, “There’s no way it can happen any time soon.”

But why not create adventurous concepts for the future?

The design firm’s Mars Ice House project has won first place in NASA’s Centennial Challenge Mars Habitat Competition, and they expect to create a full-scale prototype.

The ice house taps into the five million cubic kilometres of ice that has been identified on Mars. This vast supply would allow for a 3D printed structure to become the habitat for four explorers.

NASA’s plan is that astronauts will live on and explore the planet for a year in the 2030s.

Previous designs were dark and claustrophobic, but the ice house is a translucent double shell structure, providing a more comfortable environment for the Mars crew.

Rather than just a rough concept, this is thought through, with the wellbeing of the astronauts being paramount. The ice will act as a radiation shield, reducing ultra-violet solar and galactic gamma rays to safe levels.

It will also allow natural daylight to stream in, so that the astronauts can maintain healthy biorhythms (a Mars day is only 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth).

Though it sounds fanciful, this ice house could be built in our lifetimes, as NASA have a clear pathway mapped out.

From now until the mid-2020s we are “Earth Reliant” and exploration and research is focused around the International Space Station.

From 2018 to 2030 will be the “Proving Ground” with regular crewed missions, including a year-long mission into deep space, to verify readiness for the Mars mission.

By the early 2030s the plan is to be “Earth Independent” and NASA will test entry, descent and landing techniques needed to get to the surface of Mars, plus send humans to orbit Mars.

It’s an interesting plan, and there are parallels with business and project management.

After all, if you don’t know what the goal is, it’s impossible to work towards it.

And as we all know – in our industry in particular – you definitely need a project deadline!

Looking around at what others in the industry are doing is inspiring, whether or not we believe it will happen. I’m not convinced that we will have the ability to suspend buildings from a moving asteroid in the near future, but perhaps the Mars ice house is a possibility.

If you have any projects, futuristic or otherwise, that you would like our input on, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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