hassell + eckersley o’callaghan design martian habitat where people could really thrive

hassell + eckersley o’callaghan design martian habitat where people could really thrive

international design practice hassell reveals its vision for human habitation on mars, after being listed in NASA’s top 10 for its 3D printing centennial challenge. the competition sought perspectives from outside the aerospace industry, to explore how a human habitat could be designed and delivered on mars using autonomous 3D printing technologies and sustainable design practices. the approach by hassell and engineers eckersley o’callaghan puts people first — it moves beyond the idea of astronauts as operators, to create a habitat where people can not only survive life on mars but really thrive there.

four types of autonomous robots initiate the protection and habitation build through scouting, digging, depositing, and 3D printing of martian regolith via microwave technology



hassell head of design technology and innovation, xavier de kestelier, said the mars centennial challenge is a welcome opportunity to bring a human element into aerospace design. ‘designing for space exploration is typically very functional. it focuses on achieving maximum performance and maximum efficiency for technology and machines – but not for people. we have set out to create an environment on mars, which is not only high performance but also provides a degree of comfort and familiarity for the astronauts. it’s an environment where they feel safe and equipped to do the most important work in the history of space exploration.’

the hassel + EOC design is a place where astronauts can live, work, rest and play, and make humans a multi-planetary species



hassell teams in london and san francisco studios partnered with eckersley o’callaghan to design an external shell, which could be constructed entirely by autonomous robots using mars’ natural regolith. the robots would be sent in an unmanned rocket, months – possibly years – before the astronauts are due to arrive on mars. this would allow the shell to be complete when the astronauts land and offer them a degree of protection from the harsh martian elements. once the astronauts land, they would rapidly construct the building’s interior using a series of inflatable ‘pods’ that incorporate all the living and working requirements for everyday life on mars.

underneath the protective shield are the living pods, the lab, and berthing for the astronauts



‘anything that can’t be built using martian regolith needs to be transported with the astronauts; making the size and weight of materials critical,’ says de kestelier. ‘with this in mind, we explored multiple types of expandable structures that are commonly used on earth to see how they might be adapted for use on mars. we looked at everything from sports equipment to origami, to identify the most effective structure, with the final option being a modular approach. the added benefit of the modules is they are continuously expandable. as soon as one is occupied another can be added on. this creates the potential for ongoing expansion and the creation of a true community, rather than a series of singular structures.’

the engineering of the protective shell is based on acompression-onlyy structure as 3D printed regolith would not withstand high tensional forces



another terrestrial approach to life on mars was the use of moveable storage racks similar to those used in libraries and archives. this stage of the competition required the design to be completed to 60 per cent. the next stage, which closes in january 2019, will see the design fully complete and the overall winners announced shortly thereafter.

the protective shell would be 3D printed using martian regolith before any humans step foot on mars, protecting against huge temperature fluctuations, cosmic and solar radiation, and micro-meteorite


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

  • Looks like the MoonBase that was ready to be sent to the moon, before the Viet Nam war got so profitable, and scuttled that idea….

    Dave says:
  • Better to live underground

    Charles S Herbert says:
  • I hope they are not getting paid for this Mars nonsense. I realize NASA needs a new ‘get me to pension’ goal, now that Musk had shown them how to launch/recover rockets, but not this boondoggle.


    JimCan says:

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